NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WJZ) — The man accused of being the “East Coast Rapist” will make his first appearance in court Monday. DNA evidence links him to attacks in several states, including Maryland.
Gigi Barnett has the latest on the investigation.
Accused of terrorizing more than a dozen women across the East Coast, the man police say is pictured on billboards around Maryland is now facing charges in two states.
Aaron Thomas, 39, is accused of crimes starting 14 years ago, spanning from Virginia, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
A tip in Virginia came this past week, the same week the FBI launched the massive billboard campaign across the East Coast in search of a suspect.
Investigators began following Thomas, and sources close to the investigation say they pulled his DNA off of a discarded cigarette. U.S. Marshals say it matched 12 of their cases.
“We are proud of our investigation and hope the arrest of Aaron Thomas brings some closure to our victims and our communities,” said Lt. Julie Johnson, New Haven Police Department.
Thomas is an unemployed truck driver who lives in Connecticut with his girlfriend and their 5-year-old son.
Police say his last known attack was in Prince William County, Va.
Not far from the home he once lived in, on a quiet cul-de-sac from 2000 to 2005, police say he returned to the Virginia area around Halloween 2009 and dragged two teenage girls into the woods at gunpoint and raped them.
“At that time we kept our girls in the house,” said a resident of that neighborhood.
The sketch is the only image of Thomas police have released. Police say they do not want to show his mug shot yet because they want to encourage more victims to come forward.
Police say Thomas tried to hang himself in his jail cell over the weekend. He’s back behind bars after a brief hospital stay.
His court appearance is still on schedule for Monday.