Prosecutor: Supect Admitted to Some Rapes

Report says he asked police what took them so long.

Aaron Thomas
New Haven Register

Before facing a judge on Monday, the man accused of raping at least 17 women between Rhode Island and Virginia between 1997 and 2009 admitted he had a role in some of them, prosecutors said.

Aaron Thomas, 39, of New Haven, appeared in court briefly on Monday and never spoke as he faced a judge on charges connected to attacks in New Haven, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia.

He is being held on $1 million and will be back in court later this month. 

He was captured four days after law enforcement authorities placed digital billboards along the East Coast corridor with sketches of the man officials called "The East Coast Rapist." 

U.S. Marshals and local police identified Thomas as a suspect through DNA.

When he was arrested at 3 p.m. on Friday while walking on Cooper Place, he had one question for law enforcement authorities: "What took you so long," the New Haven Register reports

Police in Prince William County, Virginia came up with a lead of a man in New Haven on Thursday and the U.S. Marshal Service began the pursuit.

But, they needed more than a lead. They needed a DNA sample, so they followed Thomas to court last week, where he appeared on a larceny case dealing with stolen parts from a high-end bicycle, the Register reports.  

The opportunity for a DNA sample came when Thomas 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 a match, police said.

The day after Thomas was taken into custody, he attempted to hang himself in his cell, police said. He was briefly hospitalized, underwent psychiatric evaluation and he was back in his cell on Sunday.

One of the rapes Thomas is accused of happened in New Haven on Jan. 10, 2007 and 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.

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. At the time he was arrested, he was living in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven with his girlfriend and her children.

Thomas worked as an interstate truck driver until several years ago, The New Haven Register reports.

Investigators said they have cleared more than 700 suspects.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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