Police have caught a man who they say committed at least a dozen sexual assaults in four states over the last decade. 39-year-old Aaron H. Thomas, who's being called the "East Coast Rapist," was arrested on Friday in New Haven, Connecticut and charged with first-degree sexual assault, burglary, and risk of injury to a minor, the New York Times reports.
The rapist's earliest known crime is the gunpoint attack of a woman riding her bicycle in Maryland in 1997. After the rape of two teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween 2009 in Virginia, authorities recovered DNA evidence that linked the same person to a dozen attacks in Fairfax and Leesburg, Virginia, Cranston, Rhode Island, and New Haven. Altogether, Thomas is suspected of 17 assaults and it's believe that he could be linked to even more.
Last month, the F.B.I. posted billboards about the East Coast Rapist in eight states and issued alerts on social media sites. Someone close to Thomas called with information after the case was publicized. Thomas worked as a long-haul trucker and has stayed with his son's mother in New Haven for the past four years.
Thomas was caught after going to court on an unrelated larceny charge. According to the Hartford Courant, police watched him outside the courthouse, then picked up one of his cigarette butts for DNA testing.
On Saturday, Thomas tried to hang himself in his cell. He was taken to the hospital and is now back in jail, with bail set at $1 million. A police spokesman said they've been hunting for the serial rapist for years and, "We are proud of our investigation and hope the arrest of Aaron Thomas brings some closure to our victims and our communities."
Man Is Arrested In String Of Rapes On The East Coast [NYT]
"East Coast Rapist" Suspect Tries To Commit Suicide [The Harford Courant]