‘Pillowcase Rapist’ Robert Koehler charged in more sex attacks

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'Pillowcase Rapist' Robert Koehler charged in more sex attacks

New charges have been filed against an accused serial sex predator dubbed the “Pillowcase Rapist,” who has now been linked by DNA evidence to more than a half-dozen cases dating back to the 1980s.

Cold-case detectives with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference Tuesday they believe 62-year-old Robert Koehler may have committed as many as 45 rapes.

So far, advanced DNA technology has helped cops to connect Koehler to six rapes that took place in Broward County near four decades ago.

“This guy is a horrible, evil, dangerous predator,” one of the alleged victims, who identified herself as Catherine, said in a video about the case that was released by the sheriff’s office.

Koehler is currently jailed in Miami-Dade County on separate charges stemming from a woman’s rape there in the early 1980s.

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony told reporters that the assailant used a pillowcase or other fabric to cover his face — or the face of his victims — before raping them, tying them up and swiping their valuables during terrifying nighttime break-ins.

Robert Eugene Koehler mugshot
Robert Eugene Koehler was linked to many other rapes that took place in the 1980s.
Miami-Dade County Corrections

According to a statement from the sheriff’s office, Koehler carried out his attacks with “diabolical precision” by sneaking into his victims’ homes at night through unlocked doors, and attacking women while they slept or prepared for bed.

He allegedly threatened to kill the women or their family members if they screamed for help, before raping and robbing them.

The pillowcase assaults attracted much media attention in South Florida and prompted the creation of a task force to investigate the sex crimes, sheriff’s officials said.

 victim Carolyn
Victim Carolyn spoke out about her experience with Koehler.
Broward Sheriff’s Office

But the trail eventually went cold and the cases ended up in the cold-case unit, where they lingered for decades. However, sheriff’s officials said the meticulous record-keeping on the original cases provided detectives the ability to re-test the evidence decades later and obtain the suspect’s full DNA profile.

They dug through 500 boxes of evidence and thousands of sexual assault cases to link the cases to Koehler, said Sgt. Kami Floyd.

Floyd began looking through the files in 2019 and found the case of a woman who was brutally assaulted at knifepoint in her Pompano Beach apartment in June 1984. That led her to several other similar crimes in Broward County.

“It was a hunch,” Floyd said linking the first case she found to Koehler. “It was a hunch based specifically on this case, that he used a pillowcase to cover his face, and at no point was she able to identify who he was because she didn’t know what he looked like.”

Robert Eugene Koehler sits in court at his first appearance
Robert Eugene Koehler appeared in court in 2020 facing charges for assaulting a woman in the early 1980s.
Tim Shortt/Florida Today/AP

Around the same time, in 2020, prosecutors in Miami-Dade County announced Koehler’s arrest and said he was thought to be the “pillowcase rapist” whose knifepoint attacks terrorized single women across South Florida beginning in 1981.

Floyd got a search warrant for Koehler’s DNA and testing done by the sheriff’s office crime lab found it matched the evidence in the cases she was investigating, she said.

Detectives worked with prosecutors to bring six sexual assault charges against Koehler.

“When I found my first case, it actually saddened me to have to reach out to that victim and have her relive what had happened so many years ago,” Floyd said.

It was heartbreaking in many cases, she added, because some women had not even told their families what had happened to them. She said some of the victims told her they would need to talk it over with their families before discussing it with her.

“But when they did decide to come back and were brave enough to discuss it with me, I was very proud of them,” she said.

Their stories were all similar. They lived alone. They were assaulted at night, and the attacker apparently knew their habits, including in some cases the layout of their apartments.

Now, those victims are very relieved to know the man who attacked them may be brought to justice, she said.

victim Catherine
Victim identified as Catherine called Koehler a “horrible, evil person.”
Broward Sheriff’s Office

“Several of them have commented that they hope more women will come forward,” Floyd said.

Floyd explained there are so many sexual assault cases in the cold-case files, many from a time before records were computerized, making it difficult to match them.

“For those who haven’t come forward yet, this will bring you some closure,” she said.

Broward Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit Sergeant Kami Floyd speaks at a news conference regarding Koehler on June 7.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit Sergeant Kami Floyd speaks at a news conference regarding Koehler on June 7.
Wilfredo Lee/AP

It is expected that once the Miami rape case is resolved, Koehler will be brought to Broward to face the new charges against him. 

“He deserves to be put away and never come out,” said an alleged rape victim named Carolyn.

With Post Wires

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