UPDATE: 'East Coast Rapist' Suspect Charged in PWC
Police in New Haven, Conn., said they arrested 39-year-old Aaron Thomas Friday.
Update March 6 10:15 a.m.
New Haven, Conn. police said that the suspected "East Coast Rapist" tried to hang himself in jail Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that Thomas was transported to a hospital for a brief time before returning to jail.
Update March 5 10:44 a.m.
The man police identified as the "East Coast Rapist" has been charged in Prince William County, according to New Haven, CT police.
New Haven Police Lt. Julie Johnson said in a press conference Saturday morning that Aaron Thomas, 39, had been charged in Prince William County as a fugitive from justice with two counts of rape, abduction, and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in the first degree. Thomas was also charged in New Haven with sexual assault in the first degree.
Prince William County Police and New Haven Police both had active arrest warrants for Thomas. Johnson said Prince William County Police Detective Cameron Crouch was to be commended for his work along with Connecticut detectives and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in leading to the arrest.
Police in New Haven, CT have arrested 39-year-old Aaron Thomas suspected of being the 'East Coast Rapist,' according to a press release issued by the police department.
Thomas was taken into custody at his home in New Haven without incident by the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force, according to the release.
Prince William County Police also confirmed Friday a man suspected of being the "East Coast Rapist" had been arrested. Thomas is suspected in attacks on 17 women since 1997, including an attack on three teenagers in 2009 in Dale City.
The Huffington Post reported that the man was arrested based on information that came from officials in Virginia.
D.C.'s NBC/Channel 4 reports the man is from Berryville, VA and that authorities in Prince George's County, MD received an anonymous tip that led to the arrest.
The arrest comes after authorities launched a massive media campaign that included posting images of the suspect on electronic bulletin boards in states in which the attacks occurred, including Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island. Officials launched eastcoastrapist.com, which reportedly received 44,000 visits within 12 hours of launch.
No charges had been filed as of Friday evening and the U.S. Marshals Service said it would likely release further information about the arrest and the suspect in the coming days.
The suspect often wore a mask or hood during the attacks. The attack in Dale City occurred on the evening of Halloween in 2009. The attacker approached three teenage girls, two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old, on their way home from a night of trick-or-treating. The man threatened the girls with a gun and led them into a wooded ravine where he raped the two 17-year-olds, police said. The 16-year-old victim was able to text her mother on her cell phone during the attack and police rushed to the scene, but the attacker escaped as police closed in.
Prince William County Police held a press conference on Friday announcing the arrest. No further information was provided at the time.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.