Serial Rape Suspect Tried to Hang Self: Cops

He is back in his cell.

030611 East Coast Rapist sketch

The man police believe to be the East Coast Rapist tried to hang himself in his cell on Saturday night, police said.

Aaron Thomas was briefly hospitalized, underwent psychiatric evaluation and is back in his cell, according to New Haven police.

Hours before the suicide attempt, police held a news conference saying Thomas was deemed a suspect through DNA. He is being held on $1 million bond and is due in court on Monday.

Police previously said DNA had linked 12 attacks in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia since 1997.

As federal authorities and police in several states searched for the attacker, the investigation led back to New Haven.

On Friday, U.S. Marshals Service took Aaron Thomas, 39, into custody around 3 p.m. as he was walking on Cooper Place

He has been charged with rape, assault, burglary, kidnapping and other charges in connection with attacks in two counties.

The New Haven Register reports that Thomas worked as an interstate truck driver until several years ago. He has been living in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven with his girlfriend and her children.

Police in Prince William County, Virginia came up with a lead of a man in New Haven on Thursday. He was followed, and when he threw a cigarette butt in the street, police and marshals picked it up for DNA analysis, NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst reported.

It was in this city, that one local woman was attacked on Jan. 10, 2007.

The details on the Web site are chilling.

A man broke in through an unlocked apartment window on Smith Avenue just before 1:30 a.m. and entered the bedroom, where the woman slept and her 11-month-old son was resting in his crib.

The most recent attack occurred in Virginia in 2009, where he was almost caught when a victim was able to send a text message for help to her mother. In that incident, two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old were approached by a masked gunman on Halloween and ordered into the woods. He raped the 17-year-olds, but the 16-year-old was able to contact her mother.

The attacker sometimes wore a black mask or hooded sweatshirt to conceal his face. After approaching the victim, he would ask the victim for money, giving the impression that woman was being robbed, but the man would not take anything after the assault was over, police have said.

Authorities recently launched the website dedicated to finding him and started posting sketches of the suspect on electronic billboards in states where attacks occurred including Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland and Rhode Island. Fairfax County Detective John Kelly said the website generated 44,000 hits in 12 hours after it was launched late last month.

Thomas grew up Berryville, Virginia., lived in Woodbridge from 2000-2007 and also lived in Prince George's County, Maryland, as well as New Haven.

Investigators said they have cleared more than 700 suspects.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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