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Suspected Pillowcase Rapist’s DNA matches 25 rape cases, prosecutors say

Detectives find ‘dungeon’ in progress at suspected Pillowcase Rapist’s home

MIAMI – The suspected Pillowcase Rapist’s DNA matched DNA evidence linked to at least 25 rapes, Miami-Dade County prosecutors said on Thursday.

At his home in Brevard County’s city of Palm Bay, Robert Koehler had several safes. Prosecutors said detectives found trinkets from his victims and a metal nail file similar to the weapon his victims’ had described.

Prosecutor Laura Adams said even more concerning was that Koehler also had a “dungeon” in progress.

“He had excavated a little room underneath the floor of his house,” Adams said.

Prosecutors said officers first took DNA from Koehler’s 29-year-old son, Robert Koehler Jr., in September. The charges included a felony, so his DNA was included in an FBI database that included DNA from a 1983 rape kit in Miami-Dade County.

The DNA was the tip that would lead them to his father, a 60-year-old registered sex offender who was convicted of a 1990 rape in Palm Beach County, where at the time DNA collection was not mandatory.

Detectives followed the suspected serial rapist and collected DNA samples from a cart that he used at a grocery store and a door handle that he had touched, prosecutors said. The samples’match to the 1983 rape kit was enough to arrest Koehler, 60, on Saturday.

Robert Eugene Koehler in court at his first appearance before Judge David Silverman via closed circuit Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at the Brevard County Jail in Sharpes, Fla. Several law enforcement agencies believe the 60-year-old Palm Bay, Fla. man to be the infamous Pillow Case Rapist, who is thought to have attacked over 40 victims when in South Florida in the early 1980s. He was arrested on Saturday, January 18, 2020. (Tim Shortt/Florida Today via AP)
Robert Eugene Koehler in court at his first appearance before Judge David Silverman via closed circuit Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at the Brevard County Jail in Sharpes, Fla. Several law enforcement agencies believe the 60-year-old Palm Bay, Fla. man to be the infamous Pillow Case Rapist, who is thought to have attacked over 40 victims when in South Florida in the early 1980s. He was arrested on Saturday, January 18, 2020. (Tim Shortt/Florida Today via AP)

After a few days at Brevard County jail, Koehler was extradited to Miami-Dade County on Wednesday. The DNA sample that Miami-Dade detectives had been waiting for was collected through a mouth swab, and it was a match to the 1983 rape again.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said investigators worked all through Wednesday night “to be able to make a confirmed 100 percent.”

The Pillowcase Rapist was initially suspected of 44 rapes.

“A lot of sweat and tears were put into those cases and this guy was eluding it,” said Miami-Dade Police Department’s new director, Alfredo Ramirez.

Koehler, 29, is facing charges of domestic violence assault, attempted burglary and criminal mischief in Brevard County. And as far as his father, who is being held without bond, Fernandez Rundle said there will be more charges against him, but it will all take time. She made a promise in front of reporters: “This offender will never, ever be free again.”


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