For years, he terrorised South Florida, sneaking into women’s homes, attacking them with a sharp object and then raping them while he covered their faces or his own with a cloth. Dubbed the “Pillowcase Rapist“, he was suspected of sexually assaulting 45 women in the 1980s. The police assigned 50 investigators to the case, distributed fliers with sketches of his likeness, and even commissioned a sculptor to create a bust of his head.
But the trail went cold, and a task force dedicated to catching the rapist was disbanded in 1987. On Thursday, more than three decades later, the police said they had at last tracked down a suspect.
Law enforcement officials said the suspect, Robert Eugene Koehler, a 60-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested on Saturday at his home in Palm Bay. He was charged with two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon stemming from a rape in 1983.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the Miami-Dade state attorney, said on Thursday that a DNA sample taken from Koehler had linked him to 24 other sexual assaults from that era. The key break in the case came last year when Koehler’s son was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge, requiring him to submit a DNA sample.
Laura Adams, a county prosecutor, said when the police searched Koehler’s home, they found several safes stashed with women’s jewellery and a metal nail file wrapped in a protective covering. She said Koehler may have kept the items as souvenirs from his crimes. Adams said investigators also found a “dungeon in progress” that Koehler had been digging under the home.

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