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Media blitz aims for capture of East Coast Rapist

Monday - 2/28/2011, 5:31am  ET

East Coast rapist. (Courtesy Sketch)

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A man who has attacked numerous women and girls in the D.C. area since the late 1990s is still on the run.

Now, investigators are turning up the heat on him with a big new media blitz.

He's known as the East Coast Rapist, and he's wanted for at least 17 attacks since 1997, most of them right here in this region. The first attack happened almost exactly 14 years ago in Prince George's County. The last known attack was in 2009 in Prince William County.

An East Coast Rapist Task Force including members of several different law enforcement agencies was formed after the 2009 crimes.

"They haven't caught him yet, and we need to before he strikes again," says FBI spokesman Chris Allen.

"Someone out there knows who he is."

Allen says sketches of the rapist's face are starting to appear Monday on digital billboards in at least seven states. They'll be seen in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, as well as Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

One location that will feature a billboard is already famous for its colorful flashing signs.

"We're putting his sketch up on a billboard in Times Square," says Allen.

Digital billboard companies are donating the billboard space, so there is no cost to the FBI or to taxpayers.

The sketches also will appear on Facebook, Twitter, and a newly launched website. Plus, the FBI plans to highlight the case in a podcast on its website.

If that doesn't do the trick, the East Coast Rapist may be profiled on "America's Most Wanted" in the coming months.

Allen says similar media campaigns have been highly successful. In just a few years, the FBI has solved at least 39 cases as a direct result of tips from digital billboards.

If you have information that could help investigators catch the East Coast Rapist, there are several ways to pass along your tip anonymously:

  • By phone at 866-411-TIPS
  • Text "TIP187" plus your message to CRIMES (274637)
  • By e-mail here

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)