A man who was allegedly set on fire by the violent felon accused of murdering Pava LaPere spoke out about the horrifying attack – and how he was forced to watch his girlfriend being choked and repeatedly raped at gunpoint before she also burned in the inferno.
Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, was arrested in Bowie, Maryland, late Wednesday after being named the prime suspect in the 26-year-old tech CEO’s murder.
But at the time of his capture, Billingsley — who was released on mandatory supervision after completing a rape sentence – was already being hunted in connection with a Sept. 19 attack that involved the rape of a woman who was set on fire along with a man she was seeing.
That man, Jonte Gilmore, 26, described the harrowing attack and how they managed to escape in an interview with The Baltimore Banner – as well as how he broke down in tears at realizing the same suspect was accused of killing LaPere.
“This shouldn’t have happened to her,” he said of the brutal murder while cops were already hunting the suspect. “She didn’t deserve this.”
Gilmore told the outlet from his hospital bed that he and the woman, who has not been named, fell asleep after they listened to music in the basement bedroom of her West Baltimore rooming house.
She heard someone knocking on the bedroom door, but when she opened it no one was there, Gilmore said, adding that he was still asleep but that she later told him she heard someone outside shout, “Maintenance! You have a flood in the kitchen.”
When the woman went upstairs to see the man, he grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the floor, hit her in the face with a gun and shouted, “Where that money at?” – then wrapped her head and ankles in tape, he told the outlet.
Gilmore said he woke up when he felt what he thought was his partner touching his back, but then realized a gun was pointed at his forehead.
“‘Where that money at?’” he said the intruder snapped.
“‘If you try anything stupid, Imma rape your bitch upstairs!’” the man said, according to Gilmore, who said he was then tied behind his back and forced to kneel on the floor.
The man then duct-taped Gilmore’s face and ankles before putting on loud music and raping the woman as he forced her to drink alcohol, he recounted.
At one point, she said she needed to pee but the attacker forced her to urinate near Gilmore before he left the room, he said.
“It’s the maintenance man, the maintenance man,” he said she told him as they tried to remove their restraints, but the man soon returned and continued his sexual assault.
Gilmore said he saw him raping the woman again and then slashing her throat when she fought his efforts to strangle her.
“I thought I was just by myself,” he told The Baltimore Banner about the moment he saw the man dropping his partner’s limp body – but he later realized she was only pretending to be dead.
Matters only got worse when the attacker wiped a rag containing a flammable liquid on his face.
“I’m about to be dead, to burn up in this closet,” he said he thought.
Within seconds, the place erupted in flames and he heard his partner yelling that she was burning, Gilmore said, adding that he instructed her to drop and roll.
The woman managed to escape and call for help while Gilmore remained trapped in the conflagration. She soon returned with another man and pulled him to safety, he said.
On Wednesday, Gilmore underwent surgery to graft skin from his thighs to other parts of his body, his mother, Latrice Johnson, told The Baltimore Banner.
His partner also was treated for burns and has been released, according to the outlet.
A 5-year-old was treated for smoke inhalation, but Gilmore said he has no connection to the child and didn’t know the minor was in the building at the time of the terrifying incident.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Billingsley knew the two victims, Baltimore Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters Thursday without elaborating on the link.
Police began tracking his phone, financial transactions and other possible leads the day after the rape and arson attack — but he evaded capture, despite officers frequently coming within several steps of his location, Worley said.
On Monday, LaPere was found beaten to death on the roof of her Mount Vernon apartment building. Investigators believe she may have been killed on Friday.
Police did not inform the public about Billingsley after the Sept. 19 attack because they did not believe he was committing “random acts,” Worley said when questioned about the lack of warning.
“If I thought we made a mistake, I would tell you we made a mistake,” the chief said Thursday.
Authorities also are eyeing unsolved cases over the past year for possible ties to Billingsley, he added.
Billingsley previously pleaded guilty to assault charges in 2009 and 2011 before serving time behind bars for the 2013 rape of a 25-year-old woman, according to court records revealed. The victim in that case said Billingsley struck her on the face and started “strangling” her when she refused to have sex with him.
Thanks to a plea deal with former DA Marilyn Mosby’s office, he pleaded guilty to a first-degree sex assault and was hit with 14 years in prison — only to be released last October for good behavior.
Billingsley was still on parole at the time of both the Sept. 19 attack and LaPere’s death, and had been cooperating with the terms of the sex-offender registry, Worley told reporters.
LaPere, the founder of EcoMap Technologies, was listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for social impact this year, and was “on her way to changing the world” at the time of her death, relative Ashley Freeman wrote on Facebook.
Gilmore recalled how he broke down crying when he heard about her death, saying “this shouldn’t have happened to her. She didn’t deserve this.”
Johnson said she wished Baltimore police had done more after her son’s attack to spread the word about the suspect’s identity.
“They weren’t doing much for this case until now, when someone else gets hurt,” she told The Baltimore Banner.
SOURCE: New york post