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He Allegedly Raped 44 Women in 5 Years

Suspected 'Pillowcase Rapist' nabbed in Florida
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2020 10:45 AM CST
Robert Eugene Koehler.   (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Police in Florida believe they've found the notorious "Pillowcase Rapist" who attacked more than 40 women at knifepoint over five years in the 1980s. Robert Eugene Koehler, a registered sex offender and mechanic from Palm Bay, was arrested Saturday after a DNA hit, reports the Miami Herald. The 60-year-old would've been in his 20s during the 1981-86 crime spree, which began with five rapes at the same apartment complex. Some 44 rapes across South Florida were eventually linked to the suspect, who would break into apartments, usually through unlocked sliding-glass doors or windows, while hiding his face with a pillowcase or other cloth. He once raped a woman, then returned a month later to rape her next-door neighbor. He also returned to a victim's apartment five weeks after a rape, to masturbate on her underwear.

"I would like to see him slowly die, piece by piece," one victim told the Herald in 1985. "Thank goodness for the victims," retired Miami-Dade detective Dave Simmons now tells the paper. He notes the rapist "was careful not to leave physical evidence—hence how he was able to escape detection for so long." It's unclear what evidence finally led authorities to Koehler, whose arrest warrant remains sealed. He was forced to register as a sex offender following a sexual battery conviction in Palm Beach County in 1991, before state law required DNA submission. The victim said she'd been "awakened by a stranger in her bedroom" who "placed a pillow over her head and raped her," per Heavy.com. Held in Brevard County as he awaits transfer to Miami-Dade, Koehler currently faces one count of rape, with more expected to follow. (Read more serial rapists stories.)

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