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Published:March 9th, 2011 10:38 EST
The News Media Nails the East Coast Rapist Arrest with High Tech Bravado!

The News Media Nails the East Coast Rapist Arrest with High Tech Bravado!

By John G. Kays

News coverage for the arrest of the East Coast Rapist last Friday has been top notch all the way. You can find nearly 2,200 articles covering the case online and a few of them give you enough information to write your own book on the East Coast Rapist. The only problem is, it`s already been written, so best to just sit back and enjoy the ride, and ponder why you weren`t the one behind the typewriter in a busy news room.

east coast rapist

The Washington Post coverage is really the best of all, the most comprehensive and even the most high tech. A story yesterday, Demeanor of rape suspect surprises detectives by Maria Glod and Josh White, reveals that Aaron H. Thomas is something of a wimp, since he`s 5-foot-6 and weighs only 175 pounds. Aaron is also soft-spoken; this made me consider the Jekyll/Hyde angle even more, that`s been bandied about by the media.

The Washington Post has an Interactive feature that lets you review each of the 17 cases going back to January of 1997. There are photos of the crime scene, videos of detectives (in some of the entries), a main description of the crime, and then sidebars that give you the address of the crime, a description of the suspect, and the type of weapon used. Try Leesburg, Va, May 24, 2001 to see how it works.

A Google map of the crime scene, a photo of the apartment complex, then a quote from the victim are featured. He did it just because he could. It was like he had done it before, again and again. This gives you insight into the mind of the perpetrator. When you peer out at the apartment complex you can just imagine this Thomas character casing this location. It`s a little creepy to do this, but you conjecture why he was doing this (both to the woman and to himself).

A story in the Hartford Courant (Prosecutor: East Coast Rape Suspect Says He Has A "Jekyll-Hyde Personality` by Christine Dempsey), which reports out of New Haven where Aaron Thomas was arrested, emphasizes the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality disorder. The East Coast Rapist actually said this about himself to prosecutor David Strollo. This character sketch may be applied to one particularly heinous rape that occurred in New Haven. This is the January 21, 2007 entry on your interactive chart.

The virtue of a New York Times piece (Man Is Arrested in Strings of Rapes on the East Coast by Al Baker) is the aspect of the tipster who called in to the police and told them he/she knew Aaron Thomas was the East Coast Rapist. It`s been pointed out that the tipster may have seen one of these electronic billboards or possibly the web page that went up on February 28th. The cops tracked Thomas to a speeding ticket he got close in time and place to one of the rapes.

The "Tipster angle` is especially of interest to me. I wonder how long he/she held this information before getting around to calling the authorities? Apparently, Thomas had confessed the very first rape in 1997 to this person. And what about this short list of suspects that the Task Force had? Could the last rapes from 2009 have been prevented if they had acted any faster? I know they must be cautious before they make an arrest, but I wonder?

The Daily Mail had the best photo of an arrested suspect, a paltry looking fellow that would never be suspected of being the real East Coast Rapist. No wonder he got away with it for fourteen years. And Jane Velez-Mitchell on her HLN Issues show had a guest by telephone that scooped all the other news services. She interviewed Aaron`s cousin, and this was shocking in terms of the cousin being clueless to any obvious character defects of his cousin. You never know!

You will need to purview much of this coverage to see what I`m talking about. This case has been percolating down under the surface for a long time, and surprisingly gushes forth like an oil well in Wildcatter East Texas territory in the 1920s!
The news coverage was so consummate, I decided against trying to write my own story. Instead, I chose to cover how others reported on this breaking news. This was my slim opening for scooping an original story. Still, for me, a nagging question is why didn`t they capture Thomas many years ago? A chameleon in the woodwork, I guess.


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