Police in Florida on Saturday arrested a man they believe is the “Pillowcase Rapist,” wanted on suspicion of sexually assaulting more than 40 women during a five-year period in the 1980s, the Miami Herald reported.
The suspect, Robert Eugene Koehler, 60, a registered sex offender from Palm Bay, was arrested in Brevard County on an out-of-county warrant, the newspaper reported. His arrest was made after the results of a DNA hit, and he is being held at a jail in Brevard County while awaiting transfer to Miami-Dade County.
“I don’t believe it,” Koehler’s ex-wife told the Sun-Sentinel when reached by telephone. When asked why she did not believe the accusations, the woman hung up, the newspaper reported.
The Pillowcase Rapist, who was known for covering his face with a towel or shirt, attacked at least 44 women between Miami and Deerfield Beach, WTVJ reported. The attacks occurred between May 1981 and February 1986, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
An Associated Press article from March 1986 called the Pillowcase Rapist “the most hunted man in South Florida history.”
The details of the evidence that led police in Miami-Dade County to Koehler remained secret, the Herald reported. An arrest warrant for Koehler remained sealed, and law enforcement agencies refused to speak publicly about the case, the newspaper reported.
"We are aware of the arrest. However, we are trying to get into contact with the lead investigator in order to confirm the details of this particular case,” a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Police Department told the Sun-Sentinel.
A search of public records revealed that Koehler had to register as a sex offender in Florida after a 1991 conviction for sexual battery, WTVJ reported.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment, the television station reported.
DNA technology was unavailable to rape investigators during the 1980s, the Herald reported. It was not clear whether Koehler’s DNA had been placed in any law-enforcement databases, the newspaper reported.
The victims of the “Pillowcase Rapist” included a schoolteacher, nurse, artist, airline flight attendant, health spa instructor and an insurance executive, the Herald reported. Police at the time said laboratory tests showed the assailant had an O blood type that contained a rare subgrouping characteristic found in 1% of the population, the newspaper reported.
A Miami-Dade police force worked on the case until it was disbanded in 1987, the Herald reported.
Dave Simmons, a retired Miami-Dade sexual battery detective who led the task force, called the arrest “tremendous,” the newspaper reported.
“Thank goodness for the victims,” Simmons said. "I’d talked with most of them over the years. They would call periodically to check on the progress of the case.
“It’s good for them to have closure.”
© 2020 Cox Media Group