Florida officials have arrested and charged a man believed to be the "Pillowcase Rapist" accused of battering between 40 and 45 victims in a cold case dating back to the 1980s.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO) Cold Case Unit, in collaboration with the Broward State Attorney’s Office, charged Robert Koehler, 62, in six sexual assault cases, though victims and authorities believe about 40 more victims may be out there.
Some victims who spoke to the BSO said he followed them and knew their names before he attacked.
"He went through my wallet. He knew where I lived. He knew my name. I didn't know him," a victim named Catherine said in a video posted by the sheriff's office.
"He didn't kill me, but he did kill me," another victim said in the video.
Sgt. Kami Floyd, who works in the BSO's Criminal Division, was working on an initiative for cold cases involving sexual battery incidents in 2019 when she came across a newspaper article from the 1980s describing an unknown rape suspect dubbed the "Pillowcase Rapist" accused of targeting a 40th victim at the time.
Floyd said she spent month after month digging through about 500 boxes containing hundreds of cases that each had to be read in order to locate potential victims.
She eventually came across one 1984 case that described a suspect who broke into a female victim's apartment and used a pillowcase to cover his face while he raped her at knifepoint before stealing money from her purse.
Floyd then worked with the BSO's crime lab to sift through frozen evidence from other victims who had names authorities believed to be related to the "Pillowcase Rapist" case.
"At the time, all we had was blood typing. With this new technology that we have, we were able to retest the specimens and get a full DNA profile of our suspect. Once we started testing, and we were into 2020, Miami-Dade released an article that they had arrested Robert Koehler. At that point, since… we had an identifiable person, we were able to write a search warrant and obtain another swab from Robert Koehler that matched our DNA that we were able to pull from our specimens in our freezer," Floyd explained.
Victims described their reactions to the outcome as "floored," saying that Koehler's arrest gives them "closure" and "peace of mind."
"He deserves to be put away," one victim said.
Authorities believe more victims may be out there and are encouraging anyone whom Koehler may have abused to contact BSO Cold Case Unit Sergeant Brian Tutler at 954-321-4200 or anonymously contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).