The East Coast Rapist is a black male who has committed a number of rapes in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island since 1997. Police have had DNA evidence from the first attacks, but had not matched the DNA in any criminal database. On March 4, 2011, police in Connecticut arrested 39-year-old trucker and New Haven resident Aaron H. Thomas after claiming to have matched his DNA to that of the rapist from a cigarette butt he discarded. Thomas is undergoing police questioning. On March 5, 2011, jailers reported that Thomas attempted to hang himself while in a jail cell.
The rapist's modus operandi is to trail the women he selects as victims to learn about their personal lives and then attack them under cover of night. He usually approaches the victim in an open area, talks to them briefly, and then forces them into a more secluded area to rape them. He has used handguns, knives, a screwdriver, and a broken bottle as weapons during the attacks. On four occasions, he attacked more than one victim in the same incident.
On March 1, 2013, Thomas was sentenced to three life terms in prison plus an additional 80 years for his Halloween 2009 attack on three teenaged trick-or-treaters in Prince William County, Virginia, having plead guilty to said attack in November 2012. Later in March 2013, Thomas was sentenced to two additional life terms for a May 2001 rape and abduction at a Leesburg apartment complex, having plead guilty to said attack in November 2012. Later in March 2013, Thomas was indicted on six counts of first-degree rape and multiple related charges in Prince George's County, Maryland and, as of March 26, 2013, faced a total of 54 charges in said county.
In June 2015, Thomas pleaded guilty to three rapes that took place in Prince George's County, Maryland, between 1997 and 2001 and received three more life terms that are to be served concurrently with time being served in Virginia. Prosecutors also dropped charges against Thomas in three cases because of a lack of evidence.
|Date and Time||Victim's Race and Age||Location||Weapon||Notes|
|January 5, 1997; 5:00 am||Black female; age 34||Forestville, MD||Handgun||No DNA evidence|
|February 19, 1997; 12:46 am||Black female; age 25||Forestville, MD||Handgun||DNA obtained|
|March 6, 1997; 4:00 am||Black female; age 27||Forestville, MD||Handgun||Two blocks from first attack; no DNA evidence|
|August 20, 1997; 12:45 am||Black female; age 18||Suitland, MD||Knife||DNA obtained|
|July 3, 1998; 11:00 pm||Black females; ages 16 and 18||Temple Hills, MD||Broken bottle||Only younger victim raped; DNA obtained|
|June 19, 1999; 11:17 pm||Black female; age 19||Hybla Valley, VA||Knife||DNA obtained|
|January 13, 2000; 7:30 pm||Black female; age 18||Hybla Valley, VA||Knife||DNA obtained|
|November 20, 2000; 6:00 pm||White female; age 35||Alexandria, VA||Knife||Victim fought back and was not raped; DNA obtained|
|May 24, 2001; 7:45 pm||White female; age 41||Leesburg, VA||Screwdriver||Victim was bound; DNA obtained|
|August 16, 2001; 10:00 pm||Black females; ages 18 and 19||Temple Hills, MD||Handgun||Both victims raped; DNA obtained|
|December 28, 2001; 7:30 pm||Black female; age 29||Hybla Valley, VA||Knife||Last rape for five years; DNA obtained|
|January 28, 2006; 2:21 am||Black female; age 46||New Haven, CT||None||Feces left behind; no DNA evidence|
|February 20, 2006; 3:45 am||Black female; age 17||New Haven, CT||None||Condom used; no DNA evidence|
|November 28, 2006; 5:22 pm||White females; ages 11 and 39||Cranston, RI||None||Dog scared rapist away before rape; feces left behind; DNA obtained|
|January 10, 2007; 1:21 am||Mixed-race female; age 27||New Haven, CT||None||DNA obtained|
|January 21, 2007; 6:10 am||Black female; age 33||New Haven, CT||None||Victim fought back and was not raped; no DNA evidence|
|October 31, 2009; 9:11 pm||Black females; ages 16, 17, and 17||Dale City, VA||Handgun||Youngest victim called police; rapist fled after attacking older victims; DNA obtained|