MANASSAS, Va. (AP) _ Police say a data-sharing system, combined with a tip, helped crack the case of a man accused of a series of rapes on the East Coast.

Aaron Thomas was arrested Friday in Connecticut. Authorities believe he assaulted at least 17 women from Virginia to Rhode Island. Police say DNA confirmed Thomas is person they dubbed the East Coast Rapist.

At a news conference Monday in Manassas, police said a tip from Prince George’s County, Md., came in after authorities established a Web site and electronic billboards to publicize the case. That tip meshed with information generated from a web-based database, containing millions of records, that can help pinpoint a suspect’s whereabouts.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert says he expects Connecticut will prosecute Thomas first, but that he faces multiple life sentences in Virginia.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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