Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The black man known as the East Coast Rapist has been sentenced to three terms of life in prison plus 80 years
Aaron Thomas pleaded guilty in November 2012 to two counts of rape and three counts of abduction for a Halloween 2009 attack on three teenage trick-or-treaters in Prince William County, Virginia. Thomas forced the trick-or-treaters - two of whom are now in college - into the woods and raped two of them over the course of about an hour. He had a cigarette lighter that was a replica of a gun, Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said. One of the victims was able to text her mother, who called police. Thomas fled when he heard sirens. At sentencing, Thomas gave a statement referring himself as totally blameworthy. He said that he knew what he did to the women. Two of his victims testified that they forgave Thomas and prayed he would be cured of his sickness. But the mother of another victim said that her daughter hasn't been the same since the attack. Thomas also pleaded guilty in November 2012 to rape and abduction charges in Loudoun County for a rape in 2001 at a Leesburg apartment complex. He faces multiple life sentences in that case as well. Thomas's behavior and mental status was an issue in court, if not an issue raised formally in the trial. In custody, Thomas has repeatedly cut his wrists and smeared his blood on the walls of his cell. He has claimed that he had an alternate personality called Erwin. However, the prosecution's mental health expert had found that Thomas was either feigning or greatly exaggerating symptoms. His attorneys had notified the court that sanity would not be raised as an issue. Thomas has been tied to 17 attacks over longer than a decade from the D.C. area to Connecticut, including attacks in Fairfax and Prince George's counties. The tip that led to his arrest came from Prince George's County. Thomas has acknowledged that he was the East Coast Rapist, saying, "I don't think I'm crazy but something is wrong with me."