Image: Police sketch of East Coast Rapist
Authorities released this composite of artists' sketches of a suspect wanted for 17 attacks on women along the East Coast.
updated 3/4/2011 9:12:30 PM ET 2011-03-05T02:12:30

Aaron Thomas, 39, of New Haven, was arrested Friday afternoon at his home by the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force, police spokesman Joe Avery said.

U.S. Marshal Joe Faughnan said information from authorities in Virginia led them to Thomas.

The man was being held by police for questioning. No charges had been filed, Avery said.

"We're still working the case," he said. "At this point we're trying to put everything together, and there's been no formal charges at this time."

The East Coast Rapist eluded authorities for years despite committing a string of high-risk outdoor attacks, law enforcement officials say.

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In a recent effort to generate new leads in the case, authorities posted sketches of the suspect on electronic billboards in states where attacks occurred — Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island — and in neighboring states.

Police also set up a website about the case at Detective John Kelly in Fairfax County, Va., said the website generated 44,000 hits in 12 hours after it was launched late last month.

The attacker wore a mask or hooded sweatshirt to conceal his face in some attacks, investigators say. He typically approached women outdoors on foot and threatened them with a knife or a handgun, they say.

The last known attack occurred on Halloween night in 2009, when two teenagers on their way home from trick-or-treating in Woodbridge, Va., were raped, authorities say.

The cases have been linked by DNA. Investigators say they have cleared more than 700 suspects.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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