BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Palm Bay man accused of being the notorious serial rapist who terrorized dozens of women in South Florida decades ago was arrested this week after DNA from his son connected him to a 1983 rape, details from the warrant for his arrest show.
Robert Eugene Koehler, 60, was arrested at his Palm Bay home Saturday on a warrant out of Miami-Dade County. A copy of that warrant shows detectives connected Koehler to the rape and stabbing of a 25-year-old woman in 1983 after obtaining DNA from Koehler’s son when his son was arrested recently.
According to the warrant, the victim was at home on Dec. 28, 1983, when her attacker confronted her with a sharp object, possibly an ice pick, and put his hand over her mouth, pushing her to the floor. The attacker stabbed the victim in the stomach and threatened to kill her if she did not stop screaming, detectives said.
The attacker told the victim to cover her face with a blanket before he raped her, according to the warrant.
If Koehler is linked to more unsolved rapes, it could close the case on the serial rapist who alluded authorities for decades, known as the Pillowcase Rapist, for covering his face with pillowcases and carrying a knife.
Between 1981 and 1986, the Pillowcase Rapist assaulted up to 44 known victims from Deerfield Beach to Miami, according to the Miami Herald.
DNA collected from the 1983 victim was entered into the FBI crime laboratory’s Combined DNA index system, known as CODIS. The database includes federal, state and local crime lab evidence and compares DNA profiles taken from crime scenes as well as convicted offenders.
On Jan. 13, Miami-Dade police got a hit on the 1983 cold case after Koehler’s son was arrested and his DNA was entered into CODIS, according to the warrant. Three days later, detectives conducted surveillance of Koehler’s home until they could collect items he had touched to compare the 1983 DNA sample. On Jan. 17, the Miami-Dade Police Department crime lab determined the DNA sample from Koehler was a match.
Detectives noted in the warrant that Koehler was living in Miami-Dade County at the time of the rape.
An Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court judge signed a warrant for Koehler’s arrest on Jan. 17 and he was arrested the next day in Brevard County.
Koehler is a registered sexual offender. He was convicted on Oct. 31, 1991, on a sexual battery charge in Palm Beach, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.
During a first appearance Tuesday, Koehler told the Brevard County judge, “I’m not guilty,” reports Florida Today.
Koehler was ordered held without bail and is awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County.