New DNA testing helped Florida law enforcement charge the ‘pillowcase’ rapist with six additional cold cases. Robert Eugene Koehler, 62, committed the crimes in the 1980s but authorities were never able to identify him until recently.
Koehler was being held in jail on another rape charge when the news broke of the DNA discovery.
Authorities suspected Koehler could be the perp of 40 to 45 more rapes committed in South Florida during Koehler’s rape spree. At a press conference, Sgt. Kami Floyd said, the cold case task force reviewed 500 evidence boxes before they cracked the case.
The pillowcase rapist would break into the homes of his victims, pull a pillowcase over his face and rape the women at knifepoint. (Sound familiar? The Golden State Killer had similar MO.) Afterwards, Koehler would tie up the women and steal from them. In a lot of the rapes, the victims reported that the pillowcase rapist knew their daily habits, that they lived alone and the layout of their homes.
His crimes went on for years. Authorities created a task force to investigate; unfortunately the trail went cold. The pillowcase rapist investigation was eventually transferred to the cold case unit, where it waited until 2019.
Floyd came across an article in the newspaper talking about the cold cases, and she started to look through the evidence boxes. Soon after, she was able to link several rapes based on the unusual MO.
“It was a hunch,” Floyd said. “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.”
Since Koehler was already in jail, Floyd was able to obtain a warrant for his DNA. The results were a match to a rape kit from the cold cases. In a video released by the Broward Sheriff’s office, some of Koehler’s victims shared their stories. One woman said if you get mugged you tell everybody, by when you get raped you don’t want to tell anybody.