Hunt for Serial Rapist Goes Digital

Billboards are up in states where "East Coast Rapist" has struck.

east coast rapist billboard

A man police call the “East Coast Rapist” has been terrorizing women up and down the East Coast since 1997 and police are using billboards to try and catch him.

Using DNA, police have linked one man to 12 sexual assaults or attempted assaults in New Haven, Cranston, Rhode Island. Maryland and Virginia.

The East Coast Rapist attacked his first victim in February 1997 in Maryland, according to the FBI. He was on a bicycle and approached a 25-year-old woman as she walked home from work. He began a conversation but then pulled a gun, forced the woman into nearby woods, and raped her, police said. On Jan. 10, 2007, he attacked a woman on Smith Avenue in New Haven.

For 14 years, he has eluded police. He’s attacked women who are black, white and Hispanic.

He often approaches his victims outdoors on foot and threatens them with a weapon -- usually a knife or a handgun, police said. Sometime, he has worn a black mask or hooded sweatshirt to conceal his face.

He makes the women believe he’s been robbed and asks for money, but does not take money after the assault is over, police said.

New digital billboards that include composite sketches of the man are running in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia, as well as the neighboring states of New Jersey, New York and Delaware.

Police hope these billboards and the new Web site, East Coast, will help police develop leads.

“These billboards give each local police departments, and the FBI, an added edge to identifying, locating and apprehending the subject,” said Ronald Hosko, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division, FBI, Washington Field Office. “The public is the most important tool law enforcement has for solving crime.”

“We have the DNA linking the offender, but we need someone to recognize and identify him,” said John Kelly, Detective with the Fairfax County Police Department.

The attacks happened on:

  • Feb. 19, 1997, in Forestville, Maryland
  • Aug. 20, 1997, in Suitland, Maryland
  • July 3, 1997, in Temple Hills, Maryland
  • Jun.19, 1999, in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Jan. 13, 2000, in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Nov. 20, 2000, , in Alexandria, Virginia
  • May 24, 2001, Leesburg, Virginia
  • Aug. 16, 2001, in Temple Hills, Maryland
  • Dec. 28, 2001, in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Nov. 28, 2006, in Cranston, Rhode Island
  • Jan. 10, 2007, in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Oct. 31, 2009, in Woodbridge, Virginia

Prince George’s County Police Department is offering up to a $25,000 reward for information related to this investigation.

Anyone with knowledge of this subject should call the Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS/ 8477.

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