Cops Nab 'East Coast Rapist'
Connecticut man Aaron Thomas arrested in 14-year-old case
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2011 7:54 AM CST
Updated Mar 5, 2011 6:00 PM CST
This composite of artists' sketches shows the likeness of a suspect wanted for 12 sex assaults or attempted sex assaults between 1997 and 2009 in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.   (AP Photo/Fairfax County Police, File)

(Newser) – US Marshals descended on a Connecticut home yesterday and emerged with the man they say is responsible for at least 17 rapes over 14 years up and down the East Coast. New Haven police today said DNA confirmed Aaron Thomas, 39, is the East Coast rapist; investigators reportedly got his DNA off a discarded cigarette. A Marshals' spokesman said a tip from Virginia authorities led them to Thomas. The East Coast Rapist has eluded cops since 1997, with at least 17 violent attacks linked by DNA in Virginia, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The last known attack was in 2009 in Northern Virginia, on two teenage girls headed home from trick-or-treating.

Some neighbors considered 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, reports the AP. His girlfriend's son called him laid back. "It's just shocking to me," said 15-year-old Dashawn Golding, who said his mother is Thomas' girlfriend. "She's crying a lot," he said of his mom. Thomas is scheduled to appear Monday in New Haven Superior Court.