Man faces new charges for sex abuse at former Fairfax Co. home daycare

A convicted sex offender is facing new charges connected to yearslong sexual abuse of children at a former home daycare in Annandale, Virginia, police said.

Calling the case “extreme disturbing and heinous,” Fairfax County police Capt. Thea Pirnat said Elwood Lewis Thomas, 35, of Alexandria, was arrested Wednesday in his parole officer’s office. He has been charged with five counts of rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of abduction with the intent to defile.

This wasn’t the first time police have investigated Thomas about sexual abuse at Happy Land Daycare, in the 6400 block of Holyoke Drive, Pirnat said at the news conference Wednesday.

Thomas was arrested in August 2012 and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery for similar incidents. Police said he pleaded guilty, served a year in jail and is on active probation.

Then, in July 2019, Pirnat said another victim came forward and told detectives that they had been sexually abused while attending the daycare from 2008-2009. The victim who came forward this year was not known to detectives in 2012, Pirnat added, but with this new disclosure, detectives reopened the case of Thomas’ conduct at the daycare.

Through this more recent investigation, two more victims were identified. Pirnat said the sexual abuse at the daycare happened between 2006-2010. All of the victims were juveniles.

“The Happy Land Daycare is no longer open but we believe the primary time frame of concern for Thomas’ conduct was between 1999 and 2012, when he actually resided in the home with the daycare,” Pirnat said.

Thomas was briefly employed there around 2010, Pirnat added. Happy Land closed in 2012, but Pirnat said, due to state licencing and county permits, it was officially open on and off since 2006. But there may have been children at the home daycare even since 1999.

After his interview with detectives, police said Thomas will be held without bond.

Pirnat could not share the age or gender of the victims to protect their identities, but she said the daycare worked with children from 8 weeks old to 12 years old.

Police are still investigating and warned that there may be additional victims. Detectives can be reached at (703) 246-7800, or tips can be submitted anonymously online.

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