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Slain woman with Tucson ties inspires Maryland law preventing early release from jail

"Pava saw potential in other people and maybe woke it up, and that's a beautiful thing. That's how we can best help people."
Pava LaPere
Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 11, 2024

CATALINA FOOTHILLS, Ariz. (KGUN) — Flipping through pictures of their daughter Pava, Frank and Caroline LaPere recalled her 26 years of life. She was a woman they described as motivated and driven.

"To her everyone had capabilities and she wanted to connect with them,” Caroline LaPere said.

They both looked at pictures and memorabilia of their family trips with her and their son Nico, thinking back to Pava’s early life.

“She was the epitome of daddy’s little girl, until she wanted to be the boss at a very young age, like 3,” Frank LaPere recalled.

She was a student at Catalina Foothills High School where her parents said she was a part of medical and academic clubs.

"The innovation started young and it just went places,” Caroline LaPere said.

Those places included Johns Hopkins University where she fought to launch their entrepreneurship program.

“No was not an obstacle to her. It’s just that she had to come up with a different way. A different way of asking and a different way of getting,” she said about her daughter.

Johns Hopkins University is also where her parents said she made her first company out of her four with classmates.

"She would just say, everyone doubts themselves, but when you work as a team, that doubt goes away,” Caroline said.

During her time at the university, she founded EcoMap Technologies, which connects entrepreneurs like her with resources for their businesses.

Caroline described her daughter as someone who did not judge people, and recognized that she came from a life of privilege. Caroline said Pava wanted to pass down her company’s expertise to others to help them start their own businesses.

"She wanted to give those that didn't have the same upbringing as she did, opportunities,” she said.

Last year she was honored in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for her social impact. A plaque of her accomplishment is hanging in the room she used to live in at her parent’s house.

Unfortunately, LaPere’s life was cut short when she was killed. The man accused of killing her was convicted of a sex offense in 2015, according to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services online records. According to court documents he was released from jail early for his good behavior.

Last year he was also wanted for being accused of an attempted murder, arson and rape that happened just days before Pava’s death.

Recently, Maryland Governor Moore signed the Pava Marie La Pere Act, which bans people who are serving time from getting out early because of good behavior if they were sentenced for first degree rape or a first degree sexual offense. It takes effect on October 1 of this year.

Her parents said Pava is still helping others through the new law. They also said she knew some of the lawmakers who worked on it.

"There are people, women that don't even report rapes because they're afraid of retribution. This is for them,” Frank said.

It’s something Frank feels like could have changed the outcome of her life.

"There are certain types of violent offenders, especially when it comes to first degree rape and sexual assault, that is something that is not necessarily a rehabilitatable issue,” he said.

In addition, Governor Moore also approved of a grant program that is going to provide funding to technology companies started by students going to schools in the Baltimore County area.

"It allows them to continue rather than abandon this idea until you can finish your school,” Caroline said.

Pava’s parents also said there are other financial opportunities in her name that are provided through organizations.

Both the new law and grant program are actions her parents want to see expanded not just to Arizona, but also nationwide.

"Pava saw potential in other people and maybe woke it up, and that's a beautiful thing. That's how we can best help people,” Caroline said.

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Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing andrew.christiansen@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.