In June 2022, police have linked Robert Eugene Koehler, 62, to six additional rape cases that took place in the 1980s in Florida, and they believe he committed 40 to 45 rapes during this time period.
Koehler allegedly terrorized South Florida and assaulted dozens of women in their homes throughout the 1980s. Koehler would attack them with a sharp object then rape them as he covered their faces (or his) with a cloth, reported The New York Times. Because of this, he was dubbed the “pillowcase rapist”.
Despite a team of 50 investigators and an extensive manhunt that looked at more than 1,000 leads in the case, it was a difficult one to solve, and the case went cold. However, the evidence was carefully preserved in over 500 boxes with the hope that the cases could later be solved.
Police Sergeant Kami Floyd started looking through the files in 2019 and linked Koehler to the assault of a woman in her Pompano Beach, Florida, apartment in June 1984.
“It was a hunch. 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,” Floyd explained, according to CBS News.
Near this same time, in January 2020, police were able to make an arrest in the case. Koehler, a registered sex offender, was arrested at his home in Palm Bay, Florida. At that time, he was charged with two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon. In that case, he stabbed and raped a 25-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County on December. 28, 1983. Additionally, Koehler’s DNA linked him to 24 other sexual assaults that took place in the 1980s.
After that, Floyd got a search warrant for Koehler’s DNA and was able to link him to the cases she was working on.
“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.
The women all told similar stories, reported the Tampa Bay Times. They were living alone and had been assaulted by Koehler at night. He had been stalking them or somehow knew their schedules before each attack. In some cases, he even knew the layout of their home.
Although time had passed, the pain, of course, persisted. One of the women said, “He didn’t kill me, but he did kill me.”
Koehler is currently jailed in Miami-Dade County, where he faces charges for assaulting a woman in the early ’80s.