The Crime Scene - To Serve and Inform

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 6:27 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Arrest in 'East Coast Rapist' attacks

By Josh White and Maria Glod

Authroties say they've captured the man known as the "East Coast Rapist", ending a 14-year hunt for a man who has terrorized women in four states.

A suspect was taken into custody Friday in Connecticut after detectives followed a tip from someone who contacted them earlier in the week, authorities confirmed Friday.

Police said they watched the man and picked up a cigarette butt and matched his DNA to DNA found at the crime scenes. The man has family in Clarke County, Va., and elsewhere in the region.

Sources identified the man as Aaron H. Thomas, 39. He grew up in Berryville, Va., attended high school in Prince George's County and now lives in the New Haven, Conn., area, they said.

Police said genetic evidence links him to a dozen rapes that have occurred since 1997 in Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut. They suspect he may be responsible for more attacks.

The most recent known attack occurred on Halloween 2009 in Prince William County when the rapist forced three teenage trick-or-treaters into the woods at gunpoint and sexually assaulted two of the them while the third texted and called frantically for help. He once raped a young mother as her infant son slept in the same room. And he once sexually assaulted two Prince George's teenagers who were walking home from a shopping center on a summer night.

Investigators have spent countless hours searching for the man, culling through police and traffic records, reexamining the accounts of victims, talking to neighbors and surveilling suspects to collect DNA samples. They ruled out hundreds of possible suspects.

The search ended just as detectives had always thought it would: with a tip.

Early this week, police launched a massive media campaign, posting composite sketches of the attacker on digital billboards from Virginia to Rhode Island. They created a Web site, www.eastcoastrapist.com, that detailed the attacks, and several media outlets featured the case.

It started early the morning of Feb. 19, 1997, when a man on a 10-speed bicycle pulled up alongside a 25-year-old Prince George's woman who was walking home from her job at a fast-food restaurant. He started chatting. Then he pulled out a gun, forced her into some nearby woods and raped her.

The attacks continued in Virginia and later in Connecticut. He has used a gun, a knife, a screwdriver and a broken bottle to overpower his victims.


This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Josh White and Maria Glod  | March 4, 2011; 6:27 PM ET
Categories:  Around the Nation, Josh White, Maria Glod, Pr. George's, Pr. William, Sex Crimes, Updates  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Home search in missing woman case
Next: Four dead in incidents around Washington area

Comments

Great job by all the authorities in charge. God bless them all for their hard work on this. It's good to know that rapists aren't looked upon kindly in prison. He's about to go thru the living hell he put all those women thru.

Posted by: CHICO13 | March 4, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Another WP piece of high school journalism. As of 4:54, the article does not give the name of the suspect, nor does it explain why. (As in, "authorities have not released...bla bla") The writers seem to have forgotten (if they were ever taught) the 4 W's.

Posted by: seraphina | March 4, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Great JOB to all Law Enforcement in all the States for catching this Slug Slime.It will not hunt our Women and Children again.Much Love and Many Blessings to All.Sleep Well tonight Job Well Done.

Posted by: tatersandonions55 | March 4, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

What, no connection to the Tea Party? I'm betting he is a Democrat.


You can add him to the "accused/soon-to-be convicted felon" special interest group of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: FormerDemocrat | March 4, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"East Coast Rapist" Huh - he must be the Head of SEIU.

Posted by: Realist201 | March 4, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Can they put up on those digital billboards the sketch of the "Gaithersburg" rapist who hits on grandmas and senior citizens? That would solve the cases quickly and spare our elderly citizens the worst nightmare.

Posted by: commonsense101 | March 4, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Give me ten minutes alone with that guy and I'll rape his face and turn it into a hunk of bloodied pulp.
I hope the inmates find out who he is in whatever prison he winds up in...no body likes a rapist...especially one who does children.

Posted by: kenibrown | March 4, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Good job.

The guy defecated at the crime scenes. That suggests he was angry and filled with contempt for his victims.

Posted by: jbartelloni | March 4, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Good work by law enforcement. Now I wish reporters would spell check and reread before hitting the send key. Too many typos for a basic story

Posted by: alphadog2 | March 4, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I believe everyone is kind from his bottom of heart.The capist commited so many crimes,though unforgivable,which is sad ,especially for a man with a family.Besides ,with the development of technology,the police can work out a crime more easily.

Posted by: 7296203691 | March 6, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company