The man known as the East Coast Rapist pleaded guilty Monday to three first-degree rape charges in Prince George's County, Maryland, where his attacks along the East Coast began.
Aaron Thomas received three life sentences to be served concurrent with time being served in Virginia, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.
In March 2013, Thomas was indicted on a total of 54 charges in the county, including first-degree sex offense, theft, kidnapping and false imprisonment. He is accused of raping and kidnapping six women there between February 1997 and August 2001. Prosecutors dropped charges in three of those cases due to insufficient evidence.
Thomas pleaded guilty at a motions hearing Monday.
The victims in these three cases continue to have difficulty overcoming the attacks, Alsobrooks said. The guilty plea spares them from recounting the violence in court.
Thomas, who lived in Connecticut but grew up in Prince George's County, previously was sentenced to three terms of life in prison plus 80 years in Prince William County, Virginia, and two life terms in Loudoun County, Virginia. He has admitted to raping several women from Rhode Island to Virginia over the course of two decades and was arrested in Connecticut in March 2011.
In the Prince William County case, Thomas pleaded to two counts of rape and three counts of abduction for a Halloween 2009 attack on three teenage trick-or-treaters after forcing them into the woods and raping two of them over the course of about an hour. He had a cigarette lighter that was a replica of a gun, prosecutors said. One of the victims was able to text her mother, who called police. Thomas fled when he heard sirens, prosecutors said.
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Thomas also previously pleaded guilty to rape and abduction charges in Loudoun County for a rape in May 2001 at a Leesburg apartment complex. A woman moving out of her apartment was bound and raped, authorities said.
“He had a mental health history that we felt affected a lot of what happened here,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.
In his Prince William County trial, doctors testified that Thomas was not insane nor incompetent but suffers from a sexual deviance disorder. Thomas' behavior and mental status was an issue in court, if not an issue raised formally in the trial. In custody, Thomas repeatedly cut his wrists and smeared his blood on the walls of his cell, prosecutors said, and he claimed he had an alternate personality.
Police used DNA evidence to link Thomas to 17 attacks dating to 1997 from the D.C. area up the coast, including attacks in Fairfax County. The anonymous tip that led to his arrest was received by Crime Solvers in Prince George's County.