The man who has raped 12 women in states ranging from Connecticut to Virginia was caught in New Haven on Friday.
After evading police and federal authorities since 1997, the “East Coast Rapist” — as he was called by an FBI campaign to catch him — was caught in his New Haven home by the New Haven Police Department Special Investigations Unit. The man, identified as Aaron Thomas, 39, of New Haven, was arrested only four days after the FBI and six local police departments in four states created a website and posted digital billboards dedicated to catching the him.
Linked to 12 separate rapes by DNA evidence, including one in New Haven in 2007, Thomas had remained under the radar. Prior to the media campaign, police had not received a lead in many years, Cpl. Henry Tippett of the Prince George’s County, Maryland police force told the News on Monday after the billboards were announced.
Connecticut, where only one of the 12 rapes occurred, only had one billboard: along Interstate 91, near Exit 7 in Fair Haven.
Thomas has victimized black, white and Hispanic females. A Monday press release said that after approaching the victim, the offender will often ask for money, but does not take anything after the assault. A 2009 witness description of the rapist said that he is a black male who spoke through clenched teeth.
Thomas’ most recent DNA-connected assault took place on Oct. 31, 2009, in Woodbridge, Va.
The NHPD along with other involved agencies will hold a press conference on the arrest at Police Headquarters on Union Ave. Saturday at 10:00 a.m.