The hunt for and eventual capture of the "East Coast Rapist," suspected to be a 39-year-old man named Aaron Thomas, might sound like a CSI plot. However, it's anything but entertaining. The East Coast Rapist has been wanted for 17 rapes and other attacks in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia since 1997. Thomas, who is believed to be that man, was arrested on Friday. He's scheduled to appear at the New Haven Superior Court tomorrow, on charges of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.
Authorities were finally able to catch Thomas, thanks to match-up of DNA from a cigarette butt that Thomas discarded and other DNA collected from the crime scenes.
In the latest turn of events, Thomas tried to hang himself in his cell yesterday. He was unsuccessful, was taken to a hospital for several hours, then returned to jail where he is being held on $1 million bond.
How can this man possibly be defended?
Sure, there's a possibility that the DNA match-up is off, but his suicide attempt seems like a dead giveaway. (Of course, as my boyfriend said, an innocent person could try to kill themselves, because they believe the cards are stacked against them. But my instinct is that Thomas is guilty and knows he's doomed.)
Thomas still deserves a fair trial. But given the evidence, and the circumstances, it seems pretty clear that his crimes make him a candidate for capital punishment. If 17 ruined lives doesn't warrant death, I just don't know what would?
I want to clarify ... I'm not personally a huge fan of the death penalty. It makes me a little ill to even admit that I think someone should be killed in general. On one hand, it just seems like we're trying to set the record straight for something disgusting, morbid and awful by doing something else disgusting, morbid and awful.
But ... then there's the fact that justice must be served. Numerous women (likely more than the 17 we know of) have had their lives destroyed by this man. Various communities have lived in fear, because of this man. Thomas is clearly a sick individual who will never change. There's no doubt he should never be allowed back on the streets, and I'm sorry to say it just doesn't seem to make any sense for a court to prescribe that he sits in jail for the rest of his life and wastes away -- especially when he obviously wants to die.
Either way, though, it's good news that investigators made it a priority to track him down and succeeded. With hope, his arrest and whatever sentence he is given will bring closure to victims and communities who have been terrorized by this sick man over the past 12 years.
What do you think should happen to the East Coast Rapist?
Image via Fairfax County Police Department