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Man police identify as 'East Coast Rapist' caught in Connecticut

By the CNN Wire Staff
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'East Coast Rapist' suspect in custody
  • U.S. Marshals arrest Aaron Thomas, 39, without incident at his home in New Haven
  • Connecticut police say Thomas "has been identified as the East Coast Rapist"
  • Several agencies claim the DNA links a man to 17 rapes in 4 states
  • A Virginia police spokesman says, "We are all breathing a sigh of relief"

(CNN) -- Days after launching a manhunt along highways and online for the so-called East Coast Rapist, Connecticut police on Friday took into custody a man they claim is behind sexual assaults on at least 17 women in four states.

The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force arrested Aaron Thomas, 39, without incident at his home in New Haven, according to a press release from that city's police department. There was no indication that he had been charged, though the statement did say he "has been identified as the East Coast Rapist."

Early this week, six local law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the Department of Justice launched a joint website -- using the domain -- to solicit information from the public about a man they called a "brazen, cold-blooded rapist."

The website alleges that DNA evidence links a man to four attacks in Prince George's County, Maryland (between 1997 and 2001); Fairfax County, Virginia (between 1999 and 2001); Leesburg, Virginia (in 2001); Cranston, Rhode Island (in 2006); New Haven (in 2007); and Prince William County, Virginia (in 2009). It has police sketches of the suspect, from the various locales.

First Sgt. Kim Chinn, a spokeswoman for the Prince William County Police Department, told CNN affiliate WJLA that collective work of a recently formed multi-agency task force and "an anonymous tip in the past few days" helped spur the investigation this week.

"As soon as he was identified, things did happen quickly," said Chinn. "We are all breathing a sigh of relief."

CNN's Anna Gonzalez contributed to this report.