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Arrest Made in 'Pillowcase Rapist' Cold Case, Suspect's DNA Linked to 25 Sexual Assault Cases

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With DNA testing becoming so popular that it’s available to anyone with a little petty cash, more and more mysteries are being solved. People are (ostensibly) learning about their heritage, finding long-lost relatives and tracking down violent criminals.

Recently, DNA testing helped authorities track down the notorious Golden State Killer — also known as the East Area Rapist — whose relatives’ DNA in an online database helped solve the cold case.

Now, another infamous criminal may have been identified after his own son unwittingly gave him away.

Robert J. Koehler, 29, was arrested in 2019 for domestic violence assault and other charges, according to the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Because he was charged with a felony, his DNA was collected and recorded.

Oddly, his DNA was linked to another unsolved case that had taken place before he’d even been born. During the 1980s, a man known as the Pillowcase Rapist plagued the Miami-Dade area for years, racking up dozens of victims and putting the community on edge.

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The rapist got his name because he generally wore something over his face, often a pillowcase or towel. He attacked women who lived in apartments or townhomes.

When Koehler’s DNA pointed to a specific rape from 1983 that was attributed to the Pillowcase Rapist, authorities began to look closely at Koehler’s father, also named Robert.

According to CNN, police followed Robert Eugene Koehler on Jan. 16. Officers took DNA samples from the store he shopped at.

The initial tests were a match, and Koehler was arrested.

“Investigators cannot confirm Robert Koehler is the Pillowcase Rapist,” Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta initially told CNN. “However, they are not discarding the possibility.”

Koehler, 60, from Palm Bay, Florida, is a registered sex offender. The last time he was arrested was in 1991 — before taking DNA samples had become standard.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, after Koehler was arrested, a judge issued a search warrant to collect his DNA. It was a match, and connected him to over 20 other unsolved cases.

“That was the breaking point for us,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “It was just what we needed to piece this all together.”

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When police searched his home, they made a series of concerning discoveries.

Safes on the property contained jewelry and other items that officers suspected could be souvenirs from Koehler’s past crimes. Additionally, investigators found what Miami-Dade senior prosecutor Laura Adams called a “dungeon in process” — a section under the house that had been cleared.

Both discoveries suggested Koehler might be the rapist.

“We feared very much that if we had not gotten him into custody that he may have had other plans even worse than what he executed on all of these women from these cases,” Adams said during a news conference, according to People.

“We want to find out about every crime he has committed,” she said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Now that police have Koehler in hand, they’re trying to find out just how many other cases he might be linked to, and if — in fact — he could be the Pillowcase Rapist.

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