East Coast Rapist suspect indicted on 8 counts

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Virginia,Crime,Emily Babay

The man suspected of being the East Coast Rapist has been indicted in Prince William County on eight charges stemming from a Halloween 2009 attack on three teenagers.

The Prince William County Circuit Court grand jury indicted 40-year-old Aaron H. Thomas on two counts of rape, three counts of abduction with intent to defile and three counts of using a firearm during a felony.

"Those are the indictments we presented to the grand jury," Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said.

Officials suspect that Thomas is responsible for up to 17 attacks along the East Coast between 1997 and 2009.

In the Prince William case, authorities allege that Thomas accosted three trick-or-treaters at gunpoint in Dale City and raped two 17-year-old girls. The third girl, a 16-year-old, sent a text message for help from her cell phone and the assailant fled as police approached.

Ebert said a two-day trial is scheduled to begin July 31. He said he wanted the case to move swiftly to trial.

"These victims need to get this trial behind them," Ebert said.

Ronald Fahy, Thomas' attorney, didn't respond to a call for comment.

He was arrested last March in his hometown of New Haven, Conn. He has also been formally charged in a rape there, but was extradited to Virginia to face trial first in Prince William. 

Thomas was apprehended after a tipster from Prince George’s County called Crime Solvers. Authorities used a discarded cigarette to obtain his DNA and say that evidence matched DNA found at crime scenes.

Thomas could face up to five life sentences if he is convicted of all the charges.

The three Dale City teenagers testified last month at a preliminary hearing and are also expected to testify at trial, Ebert said.

Fahy had questioned whether Thomas was competent to stand trial, but a court-ordered evaluation determined that he was feigning insanity. Thomas was ruled mentally competent for trial.

In addition to the Prince William and Connecticut cases, authorities say the East Coast Rapist is responsible for attacks in Prince George’s County, Fairfax County, Leesburg and Rhode Island. The first assault was reported in Prince George’s in February 1997; the most recent was the Dale City attack.

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Emily Babay

Digital News Editor
The Washington Examiner