“East Coast Rapist” Gets Three Life Sentences Plus 80 Years

The man known as the East Coast Rapist was sentenced Friday to three terms of life in prison plus 80 years.

Aaron Thomas of Connecticut pleaded guilty in November to two counts of rape and three counts of abduction for a Halloween 2009 attack on three teenage trick-or-treaters in Prince William County. Thomas forced the trick-or-treaters -- two of whom are now in college -- into the woods and raped two of them over the course of about an hour. He had a cigarette lighter that was a replica of a gun, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert told News4. One of the victims was able to text her mother, who called police. Thomas fled when he heard sirens, Ebert said.

At sentencing Friday, Thomas gave a statement referring to himself as "totally blameworthy," News4's Erika Gonzalez reported. He also described what he called an "uncivilized" childhood.

Doctors testified that Thomas is not insane nor incompetent but suffers from a sexual deviance disorder, Gonzalez reported. They said he told them he knew what he did was wrong and did not want the charges dismissed but hoped he would get out of prison in time to take his son to a ballgame.

Two of his victims testified that they forgave Thomas and prayed he would be cured of his sickness, Gonzalez reported. But the mother of another victim said her daughter hasn't been the same since the attack.

Thomas also pleaded guilty in November to rape and abduction charges in Loudoun County for a rape in 2001 at a Leesburg apartment complex. He faces multiple life sentences that case as well.

Thomas's behavior and mental status was an issue in court, if not an issue raised formally in the trial.

Ebert called Thomas's behavior "erratic from the start." In custody, Thomas has repeatedly cut his wrists and smeared his blood on the walls of his cell. He has claimed he had an alternate personality -- Erwin.

However, the prosecution's mental health expert had found Thomas was either "feigning or greatly exaggerating" symptoms. His attorneys had notified the court that sanity would not be raised as an issue.

Police used DNA evidence to link Thomas to 17 attacks dating to 1997 from the D.C. area to Connecticut, including attacks in Fairfax and Prince George's counties.

The tip that led to his arrest came from Prince George's County.

In a story published in The Washington Post, Thomas acknowledged that he was the East Coast Rapist, saying, "I don't think I'm crazy but something is wrong with me."

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