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Familial Searching Could Have Caught East Coast Rapist Earlier
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

News Agencies have learned that the brother of the East Coast Rapist, Aaron Thomas, 39 years old, is serving time for murder in Maryland. Why is this important?  It means that Maryland authorities had collected a sample of his DNA which may have led police to the East Coast Rapist years ago.

When detectives picked up Thomas' cigarette butt, they say the DNA from his saliva exactly matched the DNA he left behind after raping 17 women. The women were sexual assaulted from 1997 to 2009 But, prosecutors say that "familial DNA searching" might have led to a near match to his brother who is serving time in a Maryland prison and broken the case long ago. "I think arrest would have been made much sooner than it was," says Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert.
Familial searching allows forensic scientists to take a sample of DNA from a crime scene and identify near matches after making comparisons to 300,000 samples of DNA in the Commonwealth's criminal database, maybe to the offender's brother, sister, mother, father, or even more distant relatives.  "You may come up with a list of 100, 150 names. Or 50 names. You don't know. You have to determine how many of those people you are going to look at and take on to step two," says Pete Marone, Director of the Department of Forensic Sciences.
 
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