East Coast Rape Task Force Arrests Suspect in New Haven
|FBI Washington March 07, 2011|
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA—The East Coast Rape Task Force—comprised of law enforcement officers from Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force—have arrested a suspect in the East Coast Rape Cases. Aaron H. Thomas, 39 years old, was arrested in New Haven, Connecticut.
Recently, Aaron Thomas’ name came in through a law enforcement information-sharing tool being used by the task force called LInX. The task force also put up a website, www.eastcoastrapist.com, and digital billboards were put up along the I-95 corridor from Maine to Virginia. On Monday February 28, the Prince George's County Police received a tip from someone saying Aaron Thomas was the East Coast Rapist and provided additional information. On Thursday, March 3, Aaron Thomas’ DNA was collected and turned over to the Connecticut State Forensic Science Lab for analysis. On Friday morning, the DNA match was confirmed.
Prince William County Police obtained warrants charging Thomas with two counts of rape, three counts of abduction, and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. On Friday afternoon, March 4, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested Thomas at his home, 25 Englewood Drive New Haven, CT.
Charlie T. Deane, Chief of Police, Prince William County, Virginia, credits the success of the multijurisdictional case to the close cooperation among the agencies involved and the use of cutting edge technology, such as LInX and DNA. “LInX will continue to be a valuable tool for law enforcement officers nationwide. As the system grows and more data is entered, it will enhance the ability of law enforcement to rapidly close cases. DNA, of course has proven to be an effective law enforcement tool.”
“Assaults in the East Coast Rapist investigation spanned more than 400 miles in 12 incidences, presenting major obstacles for investigators,” said Ronald Hosko, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division at FBI’s Washington Field Office. “But this capture is an excellent example of a coordinated law enforcement effort tying together 14 years of hard work by investigators who never gave up.”
Colonel David Rohrer, Chief of Police, Fairfax County, Virginia said, “We would like to commend all of the investigators involved and express our gratitude for their perseverance and diligence. For 14 years, our officers have been steadfast in analyzing thousands of leads—eliminating over 700 suspects and leaving no stone unturned. Of course, the successful outcome of this case would not have been possible without the support of the public and media, so we are also appreciative of all the assistance we received throughout this investigation.”
Chief Mark Magaw, Prince George’s County Police said, “The arrest of Aaron Thomas is an example of the success achieved through collaborative policing efforts. It would not have been possible without the public’s help and the dedication and expertise of all those involved in this case for the past 14 years.”
Shortly after the Prince William County case, detectives from involved jurisdictions met to discuss what became known as the East Coast Rape Cases. At a media briefing in December 2009, the formation of a multijurisdictional investigative task force was announced. Members of that task force grew to include:
- Fairfax County, Virginia
- Prince William County, Virginia
- Prince Georges County, Maryland
- Town of Leesburg, Virginia
- New Haven, Connecticut
- Cranston, Rhode Island
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- United States Marshals Service
Throughout the following months, detectives regularly exchanged information and narrowed the field of potential suspects.
The success in this case, yet again, demonstrates the value of close cooperation among law enforcement agencies. Strong collaboration between the police agencies, FBI, and U.S. Marshals was essential to the outcome of the case.
DNA—As was first reported in 2009, 12 separate cases that occurred over a 12-year time span were linked through DNA evidence.
Last Friday morning, the final link was made to match the DNA from 12 cases to the known sample from Aaron H. Thomas.
The dates and locations of the cases linked to Thomas by DNA are:
- Feb. 19, 1997 Forestville, MD
- Aug. 20, 1997 Suitland, MD
- July 3, 1998 Temple Hills, MD
- Jun.19, 1999 Alexandria, VA
- Jan. 13, 2000 Alexandria, VA
- Nov. 20, 2000 Alexandria, VA
- May 24, 2001 Leesburg, VA
- Aug. 16, 2001 Temple Hills, MD
- Dec. 28, 2001 Alexandria, VA
- Nov. 28, 2006 Cranston, RI
- Jan. 10, 2007 New Haven, CT
- Oct. 31, 2009 Woodbridge, VA
The value of prompt and outstanding work of the Connecticut State Forensic Science Lab cannot be over-emphasized. This allowed the case to be quickly solved once the evidence was collected from a prime suspect.
LInX—This information-sharing tool is now coming of age and will continue to be a valuable and essential tool for law enforcement nationwide. As the system grows and more data is entered, it will enhance the ability of officers and detectives to track repeat criminals and rapidly close cases.