CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) -- A suspected serial rapist linked to crimes in more than a dozen states -- including a Peeping Tom incident in Cranston -- backed out of a plea agreement in Virginia Tuesday.
Aaron Thomas, the man accused of being the so-called "East Coast Rapist," was expected to plead guilty to abducting three teenage trick-or-treaters in Virginia on Halloween night in 2009 and raping two of them.
The deal was called off, however, when Thomas reportedly told the judge he was not sure he knew what he was doing.
Under the previously-agreed upon plea deal, prosecutors were prepared to drop three lesser firearms charges against Thomas, in exchange for sparing the accusers from having to testify at trial.
Now the case appears headed to trial.
Through DNA and other evidence, Thomas has been linked to 17 assaults and rapes on women across the east coast, dating back to 1997. He has not been convicted of any of those assaults.
In Rhode Island, DNA evidence connected Thomas to a Peeping Tom incident on Valley View Drive in Cranston in 2006.
Thomas was arrested in Connecticut in March 2011, after investigators launched an extensive ad campaign including billboards featuring the suspect's picture.