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East coast rapist suspect admits attacks

WASHINGTON — In hours of telephone interviews from his jail cell in Prince William County, Va., Aaron Thomas has for the first time publicly acknowledged that he attacked women in several states.

In the interviews with the Washington Post, Thomas said he has struggled to understand why he did it, and why he did it so many times — more than a dozen rapes by his count.

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‘‘They were objects,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘Whoever came down the street, an object. . . . It’s awful. It’s scary. . . . I don’t know why I couldn’t just stop.’’

Thomas says he is the man, referred to as the East Coast Rapist, who terrorized women in the Washington area and New England beginning in the early 1990s, culminating in an attack in Virginia on three trick-or-treating teens in 2009.

His crimes, which spanned nearly half his life, gripped the region with the kind of fear that comes from an unknown man, lurking in the darkness, attacking strangers who were doing such everyday tasks as walking home from work, waiting for a bus, moving out of an apartment, or even sleeping in their own bed.

Thomas is scheduled to plead guilty on rape and abduction charges in Prince William County on Tuesday for the Halloween attacks and in Loudoun County on Nov. 30 for a 2001 rape in Leesburg, Va. He faces the possibility of several life terms in prison.

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