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UPDATE: Tip from Virginia Leads to Arrest of East Coast Rapist Suspect

Authorities have arrested a man they believe raped at least 17 women; last seen in Dale City in 2009

UPDATE March 8, 9:45 p.m.: Police identified the anonymous tip that led to the arrest as a resident of Prince George's County, Md. That tip was called into Prince George's County, not Prince William County, as previously reported.

UPDATE: March 4, 11:15 p.m.

Authorities have taken Aaron Thomas, 39, of New Haven, Conn., into custody as a suspect in the East Coast Rapist attacks, news reports say. The Washington Post reports that the man went to high school in Prince George's County, is a trucker and visited his mother of Clarke County, Va. on a regular basis.

D.C.'s NBC/Channel 4 reports the man is from Berryville, Va. and that authorities in Prince William County received an anonymous tip that led to the arrest.

A 14-year-long search for the man dubbed the 'East Coast Rapist' ended Friday in Connecticut, authorities announced.

His last appearance was in Dale City on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2009. The man accused of assaulting at least four women in the Hybla Valley area and eight others was arrested in New Haven, First Sergeant Kim Chinn, of the Prince William County Police confirmed.

Authorities have not yet released the man's name or any other information as of Friday evening.

Media outlets have reported that the man known as the East Coast Rapist was arrested in Connecticut this afternoon.

The Hartford Courant reported that the man, accused of assaulting at least four women in the Hybla Valley area of Fairfax County and eight others, was found in New Haven.

His last reported appearance was Oct. 31, 2009 in Dale City (read story below).

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

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Previous story

Authorities have set up a website to help catch the East Coast Rapist, a man accused of assaulting at least four women in the Hybla Valley area and eight others.

The investigation involves 12 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults between 1997 and 2009 by the same offender, linked by DNA evidence.

Virginia incidents occurred in Dale City, Alexandria and Leesburg at various points in 2000, 2001 and 2009. In the Dale City incident on Oct. 31, 2009 a man approached three girls on their way home from a night of trick-or-treating. Police reports from the incident state that the suspect raped two of the girls and assaulted the other. One of the victims, a 16-yaer-old girl used her cell phone to text her mother and call for help during the attack. The suspect fled after police closed in.

The website, which launched this Monday, has information on all 12 attacks, most of which occurred in the late 90s and early 2000s in Fairfax County, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Authorities linked the same man to all the attacks through DNA.

Law enforcement officials are also placing billboards up and down the East Coast with the suspect's information.

“These billboards give local police departments and the FBI an added edge to identify, locate, and apprehend the subject,” said Ronald Hosko, Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in the Washington Field Office, stated in a press release from the FBI. “The public is the most important tool law enforcement has for solving crimes like this.”

According to police, the following crimes took place in or near the Hybla Valley area:

The first incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on December 28, 2001 on the 3700 block of Rolling Hills Avenue. A 29-year-old woman waiting for a bus was approached by a man who was smoking a cigarette. He asked her when the next bus was coming, then threatened her with a knife and forced her behind an electrical box at a nearby apartment complex, where he raped her. The victim said that the man threatened to “come for her” if she became pregnant.

On Nov. 20, 2000, a 35-year-old woman was approached by a man asking for directions at the entrance to her townhouse community at Timber Forest Drive and Edsall Road. When he got close enough, he put her in a headlock and attempted to rob her. The woman was a female military officer and was able to fight back and take away the man’s knife. He ran away, but police were able to obtain DNA from the knife blade and link this case to others.

On Jan. 13, 2000, an 18-year-old woman was walking home from a community center at about 7:30 p.m. on the 7300 block of Fordson Road when she was approached from behind. The man put a knife to her throat and asked for money. He then forced her to a wooded area and raped her.

It was June 19, 1999 at just after 11 p.m. when 19-year-old a woman walking down Richmond Highway near Memorial Street passed by a man in a phone booth. After passing him by, the man put the woman in a headlock and threatened her with a knife. He forced her to the back steps of a realty office and raped her.

“We have the DNA linking the offender, but we need someone to recognize and identify him,” John Kelly, a detective with the Fairfax County Police Department, stated in a press release.

Authorities are urging anyone who knows information to call the authorities at Call 1-866-411-TIPS or contact Fairfax County Crime Solvers.

Description of the rapist from the 1997 attacks:

  • Black male.
  • Early to mid 20s
  • May have a chipped or missing tooth.
  • Between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10 about 150 pounds

Description from 1998-2000 attacks:

  • Black male.
  • In his 20s
  • 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-9 tall and 150 to 200 pounds
  • Wears black clothing, ski hat, possibly a gold necklace

Description from 2001 attacks:

  • Black male.
  • Mid 20s
  • Approx. 6-feet tall, 185 to 210 pounds
  • Wore black mask, red shirt, black pants

Description from 2006-2008

  • Black male.
  • Wore leather and/or latex gloves
  • Smells of cigarettes
  • Wears cologne
  • Wore North face jacket

Description from the 2009 attack:

  • Black male.
  • In his 40s
  • Wore a black mask
  • Spoke through clenched teeth

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