Crime Scene
Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 03/04/2011

East Coast rapist caught in Connecticut

The East Coast Rapist has been captured, ending a 14-year hunt for a man who has terrorized women in four states, authorities said.

A suspect was taken into custody Friday in Connecticut after detectives followed a tip from someone who contacted them earlier in the week, authorities confirmed Friday.

Police said genetic evidence links him to a dozen rapes that have occurred since 1997 in Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut. They suspect he may be responsible for more attacks.

The most recent known attack occurred on Halloween 2009 in Prince William County when the rapist forced three teenaged trick-or-treaters into the woods at gunpoint and sexually assaulted two of the them while the third texted and called frantically for help. He once raped a young mother as her infant son slept in the same room. And he once sexually assaulted two Prince George's teenagers who were walking home from a shopping center on a summer night.

Investigators have spent countless hours searching for the man, culling through police and traffic records, reexamining the accounts of victims, talking to neighbors and surveilling suspects to collect DNA samples. They ruled out hundreds of possible suspects.

The search ended just as detectives had always thought it would: a tip.

Early this week police launched a massive media campaign, posting composite sketches of the attacker on digital billboards from Virginia to Rhode Island. They created a website: www.eastcoastrapist.com, that detailed the attacks and several media outlets featured the case.

It started early the morning of Feb. 19, 1997 when a man on a 10-speed bicycle pulled up alongside a 25-year-old Prince George's County woman who was walking home from her job at a fast food restaurant. He started chatting. Then he pulled out a gun, forced her into the nearby woods and raped her.

The attacks continued in Virginia and later in Connecticut. He has used a gun, a knife, a screwdriver and a broken bottle to overpower his victims.

By and  |  05:04 PM ET, 03/04/2011

 
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