A 63-year-old Florida man believed to be the infamous “Pillowcase Rapist” may spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of raping, stabbing, and robbing a then-25-year-old woman inside of her home 40 years ago. A Miami-Dade County jury on Wednesday found Robert Eugene Koehler guilty on one count each of sexual battery, kidnapping, and burglary, prosecutors confirmed to Law&Crime.
While the verdict only dealt with one of Koehler’s alleged victims, authorities have said that DNA evidence links him to more than two dozen similarly violent attacks in the surrounding areas and more than 40 attacks overall.
“Today’s jury verdict finding Robert Koehler guilty of sexual battery, kidnapping and burglary, finally closes the book on a terror that gripped the women of South Florida for far, far too long,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement emailed to Law&Crime. “With a DNA trail linking Koehler to at least 25 sexual batteries in Miami-Dade alone, the work of two generations of police officers and forensic scientists seems to have come to a just and final end. This community owes a debt of gratitude to the courage of our victim who had to look this man in the eye years after her own sexual assault and still had the strength to testify against him.
Rundle also singled out prosecutors Laura Adams and Natalie Snyder as deserving “particular acclaim” for their efforts in convicting Koehler.
Koehler is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison and is currently scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing on March 17.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, the Pillowcase Rapist – not to be confused with the Pillowcase Rapist from California – gained the moniker after a string of alleged attacks in which the assailant used a pillowcase or a similar type of fabric to cover his face or the face of his victims. He typically targeted women who lived in townhouses or apartments, often threatening them at knifepoint, sexually assaulting them, and then stealing from the home.
Investigators were reportedly able to connect Koehler to the cold case sexual assaults after his son was arrested on unrelated charges in 2019 and submitted a DNA sample to authorities, The New York Times reported. That sample was genealogically linked as a close relative to a DNA profile of the suspected Pillowcase Rapist. Investigators then reportedly followed Koehler and surreptitiously obtained his DNA from a shopping cart and door handle which they say matched the DNA obtained from the Pillowcase Rapist crime scenes.
Koehler took the stand in his own defense during the trial and made a series of bizarre allegations, claiming that he was framed for the crimes by corrupt police officers, according to a report from Miami NBC affiliate WTVJ. Koehler reportedly testified that the officers kidnapped him in the 1980s, drugged him, and killed a man, woman, and child in front of him, then extracted his bodily fluids and planted his DNA at various crime scenes.
During cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Adams said that some of Koehler’s claims sounded like “a bad LSD trip.”
After he is sentenced for this case, Koehler will be transported to Broward County where he is facing six additional sexual assault cases.
(image via WPLG screen shot)
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