McLEAN, Va. — A Connecticut man is scheduled to enter a guilty plea in a 2001 rape case from northern Virginia that police linked to an attacker dubbed the East Coast Rapist.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s attorney Jim Plowman said Wednesday that Aaron Thomas of New Haven, Conn., is scheduled for a plea hearing Nov. 30 in Leesburg. He is charged there with the rape and forcible sodomy of a 41-year-old woman who was threatened by a man wielding a screwdriver.
Plowman declined to discuss exactly what charges Thomas is expected to plead to. He could spend up to life in prison on a rape conviction.
Thomas was arrested in Connecticut in March 2011 after a multi-state law enforcement effort to catch a man believed responsible for rapes and other attacks on 17 women since 1997 in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The cases were linked by DNA and other evidence. After police received a tip leading them to Thomas, he was arrested after they picked a sample of his DNA from a discarded cigarette butt.
Thomas is currently being held in Prince William County, where he is also facing trial on charges of abducting three teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween 2009 and raping two of them before being forced to flee. That attack was the last in the series of assaults that police linked to the East Coast Rapist.
Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert told The Washington Post Wednesday that Thomas has agreed to plead guilty to the two rape charges as well as three counts of abduction from the Halloween attack. No agreement is in place on a specific sentence.
Ebert told the Post that the pleas would spare victims from having to go through a trial.
After being brought to Virginia to face trial, Thomas’ defense lawyers raised questions about his competency, saying in court papers that he has been mutilating himself and hallucinating. They say that when they have tried to meet with him, he hides under a blanket. Ebert said a mental health examiner concluded that Thomas was faking his symptoms.
Thomas’ lawyer, Jennifer Zary, did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.