East Coast Rapist Suspect Attempts Suicide

By Tim Persinko
|  Sunday, Mar 6, 2011  |  Updated 8:30 AM EDT
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To Catch a Predator...

AP

FILE - This composite of artists' sketches provided by the Fairfax, Va., County Police Department shows the likeness of a suspect wanted for 12 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults between 1997 and 2009 in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The sketches were made in 1998, left, in 1999, center, and in 2000, right. Federal and local authorities said Friday March 4, 2011 they have arrested a suspect in the so-called East Coast Rapist case. Members of the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Aaron Thomas, 39, "without incident" at his home in New Haven, police spokesman Joseph Avery said. (AP Photo/Fairfax County Police, File)

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East Coast Rapist

News4's Darcy Spencer has the latest on the east coast rapist arrest investigation.

East Coast Rapist Arrest

He is accused of raping women in our region since 1997, and terrorizing communities up and down the East Coast for more than a decade. But now police believe they have the East Coast Rapist in custody. News4's Jackie Bensen reports on the unusual evidence that led to his arrest.
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The suspected "East Coast Rapist" tried to take his own life in jail Saturday night, police said.

Authorities said Aaron Thomas, 39, attempted to hang himself in his jail cell.  He survived, and was transported to a hospital for treatment.

Thomas has been arrested in connection with a string of sexual assaults from Rhode Island to Virginia.  Initial rape charges against the unemployed trucker have been filed in Connecticut and Virginia.  Authorities in New Haven say that DNA evidence may tie him to 17 attacks on women, which took place over the span of a decade.

Police said the "East Coast Rapist" approached women on foot, using weapons like a knife, a screw driver, or a hand gun.

Thomas has roots in the Washington region.  He grew up in the Berryville, Va.

At one time he lived in a house that was right behind the Dale City Elementary School.

Thomas left an impression on his Dale City neighbors.  Those who lived nearby recalled loud and frequent fighting between Thomas and the woman he was living with there.

He also lived in District Heights in Prince George's County from June 1994 to August of 2006.  Several of the attacks happened in the county during that time period.

It was a Prince William County source gave the tip that led police to Thomas' New Haven residence.  Prince William County was the site of the East Coast Rapist's last attack.  Two teenagers in 2009 were raped behind a shopping center while coming home from trick or treating.

In New Haven, DNA from the end of a discarded cigarette butt that provided enough evidence for police to make an arrest.
 

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