Man arrested in 17 rapes dating from ’97


Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn.

Some neighbors considered Aaron Thomas an odd nuisance, a man who lifted weights in the front yard, parked a loud tractor-trailer in their residential neighborhood and ran or rode his bike unfathomable distances. His girlfriend’s son called him laid back.

But authorities say the unemployed truck driver is the East Coast rapist, suspected of terrorizing women with sexual assaults from Virginia to Rhode Island over 12 years. New Haven police said Saturday that DNA confirmed Thomas is the East Coast rapist.

A woman who answered the phone where neighbors said Thomas lived with his girlfriend said she was devastated.

There was a heavy police presence Saturday as investigators searched the house, a yellow colonial with blue shutters and a security sign on the front lawn.

Lt. Julie Johnson said DNA was collected and subsequently matched by the state police forensic lab confirming 39-year-old Aaron Thomas was the East Coast Rapist. Investigators reportedly got Thomas’ DNA off a discarded cigarette.

The East Coast Rapist is wanted for 17 rapes and other attacks in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia that began in 1997. The cases were linked by DNA.

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