Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, was taken into custody without incident at around 11pm last night at a train station in Bowie, Prince County. US Marshalls, Baltimore police, Maryland State Police, ATF and DC Metro Police participated in the arrest, authorities said at a press conference on Thursday.
“But my wish is that we can give the family and community a sense of closure. We’re going to put this violent repeat criminal offender in jail, where he belongs,” Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said. “Let’s work together and make sure he stays there.”
The commissioner said he would not comment on whether Billingsley was armed at the time of his arrest but said the suspect was “cooperative” after he was surrounded by a SWAT team. Authorities listened to Billingsley’s jail phone calls and analysed his financial transactions, phone data and social media activity in order to track him.
Mr Worley said that LaPere, the 26-year-old CEO and founder of EcoMap Technologies, was likely murdered on Friday night and her body was only discovered in her Baltimore apartment on Monday. He declined to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding her death, citing her family’s request to keep those details private.
Billingsley is facing charges of first-degree murder, second-degree assault, sex offence and robbery in LaPere’s death. He was also linked to a sexual assault and arson attack on 19 September that left a woman in critical condition, an adult man injured and a child hospitalised for smoke inhalation.
The arson incident took place on the 800 block of Edmondson Avenue — just a 15-minute walk from LaPere’s building, where her body was found on 25 September. Commissioner Worley said that Billingsley worked at the building where the 19 September victims resided and knew them.
A warrant for Billingsley’s arrest was issued on 20 September, but a safety advisory was not issued by law enforcement. The commissioner pushed back against criticism over the handling of the investigation and his department’s failure to alert the community of a potential threat with Billingsley on the loose.
“We pretty much know why he went into that house [on 19 September]. He was familiar with the building,” he said. “We didn’t think at that point that he was committing random acts because we know he had been out since October 2022 and he wasn’t linked to any violent incidents.”
Commissioner Worley went on to say that Billingsley was expected to check in with probation officials on Monday and they expected him to do so because he had been compliant in the past. After he failed to report to law enforcement that day, LaPere’s body was reportedly found on the roof of her building on 306 West Franklin, according to The Baltimore Banner.
A detective who had investigated the incident on Edmondson Avenue and then responded to the crime scene at LaPere’s building immediately realised there was a link between the attacks.
Authorities are still trying to determine whether LaPere and Billingsley knew each other before her murder. Throughout the press conference, the commissioner doubled down on remarks that flyers warning residents of Billingsley were not put out sooner because the first attack was targeted and investigators did not believe the suspect would strike again.
“The incident on Edmonson Avenue was not a random act,” Commissioner Worley said. “Had it been a random act, we would have put out flyers right away saying this individual was on the loose committing random acts.”
However, court records document Billignsley’s lengthy criminal history and repeated offences, which landed him in jail with a 30-year sentence in 2015. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was given two years of supervised probation.
He violated the terms of his parole and was convicted of second-degree assault in 2011. Billingsley served two years over the 2011 conviction and just months after being released in 2013, he was arrested again on attempted rape charges.
In 2015, Billingsley was sentenced to three decades in prison, with 16 years suspended and five years of supervised probation, after he pleaded guilty to a first-degree sex offence.
The sentence, which was struck under the previous administration, was below guideline standards, Baltimore District Attorney Ivan Bates said on Thursday. Mr Bates said that Billingsley was set to serve 14 years but then went on to earn diminution credits, per Maryland sentencing guidelines.
Billingsley was released in October 2022, something that “should have never have happened,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at the press conference.
“We give almost 30 days of good time for almost every month that you’re in custody and you’re not messing up,” Mr Bates said. “Therefore he didn’t need parole, he did a little less than the third of his sentence and that’s what the law allows. So when you look at it, it’s more of a systemic failure.”