NATIONAL NEWS

Police: DNA technology connects man to Florida serial rapes

Jun 7, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:58 am

handcuffs in front of a gavel...

FILE

MIAMI (AP) — Advanced DNA technology helped detectives link the cases of six women to a man accused of being the “pillowcase rapist” for a string of rapes back in the 1980s.

Robert Koehler is currently jailed in neighboring Miami-Dade County, where he faces charges for assaulting a woman in the early ’80s as well, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a Tuesday morning news conference.

Authorities believe Koehler, 62, may have committed 40 to 45 rapes, terrifying victims by breaking into their homes at night, the sheriff said. The assailant used a pillowcase or other fabric to cover his face — or the face of his victims — before assaulting them, tying them up and stealing items from their homes.

The assaults by the pillowcase rapists attracted extensive media attention in South Florida and the creation of a task force to investigate the sex crimes, sheriff’s officials said.

But the trail eventually turned cold and the cases ended up in the cold case unit. However, sheriff’s officials said the meticulous record-keeping on the original cases provided detectives the ability to test the evidence decades later.

They dug through 500 boxes of evidence and thousands of sexual assault cases to link the cases to Koehler, said Sgt. Kami Floyd.

Floyd began looking through the files in 2019 and found the case of a woman who was assaulted in her Pompano Beach apartment in June 1984. That led her to several other similar crimes in Broward County.

“It was a hunch,” Floyd said linking the first case she found to Koehler. “It was a hunch based specifically on this case, that he used a pillowcase to cover his face, and at no point was she able to identify who he was because she didn’t know what he looked like.”

Around the same time, in 2020, prosecutors in Miami-Dade County announced Koehler’s arrest and said he was thought to be the “pillowcase rapist” whose knifepoint attacks put women across South Florida on edge beginning in 1981.

Floyd got a search warrant for Koehler’s DNA and testing done by the sheriff’s office crime lab found it matched the evidence in the cases she was investigating, she said.

Detectives worked with prosecutors to bring six sexual assault charges against Koehler.

“When I found my first case, it actually saddened me to have to reach out to that victim and have her relive what had happened so many years ago,” Floyd said.

It was heartbreaking in many cases, she added, because some women had not even told their families what had happened to them. She said some of the victims told her they would need to talk it over with their families before discussing it with her.

“But when they did decide to come back and were brave enough to discuss it with me, I was very proud of them,” she said.

Their stories were all similar. They lived alone. They were assaulted at night, and the attacker apparently knew their habits, including in some cases the layout of their apartments.

Now, those victims are very relieved to know the man who attacked them may be brought to justice, she said.

“Several of them have commented that they hope more women will come forward,” Floyd said.

Floyd explained there are so many sexual assault cases in the cold case files, many from a time before records were computerized, making it difficult to match them.

“For those who haven’t come forward yet, this will bring you some closure,” she said.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologized to members of his family who objected to a new TV ad released Sund...

Meg Kinnard, Associated Press

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. fails to qualify for CNN’s debate

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has failed to qualify for next week’s debate in Atlanta. Host network CNN said Thursday the independent presidential candidate fell short of benchmarks both for state ballot qualification and polling

44 seconds ago

Dave Drewry's pet donkey, Diesel disappeared in California five years ago and he’s been spotted l...

Scottie Andrew, CNN

A pet donkey disappeared in California five years ago was spotted living with a herd of wild elk

For years, Diesel's owners assumed the worst happened to their donkey after he ran away. But, a hunter found a particular sight when he was hunting deer earlier this year.

47 minutes ago

In this still image taken from video of the Office of the New York Governor, Gov. Kathy Hochul sign...

Anthony Izaguirre

New York moves to limit ‘addictive’ social media feeds for kids

New York's governor has signed a bill that would allow parents to block their children from getting social media posts suggested by a platform’s algorithm.

2 hours ago

FILE:  Actor Donald Sutherland attends the premiere of Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - ...

Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer

Donald Sutherland, the towering actor whose career spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ to ‘Hunger Games,’ dies at 88

Donald Sutherland, the film and TV actor whose career stretched from “M.A.S.H” to “JFK” to “The Hunger Games,” has died at 88.

3 hours ago

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JUNE 19: People cool off in the fountain at Polk Brothers Park at Navy Pier as ...

Nick Perry and Holley Ramer

Millions sweating it out as heat wave nears peak from Midwest to Maine

A heat wave is moving closer to the breaking point from the Midwest to New England as millions of people sweat it out for another day.

4 hours ago

Corporate America is rapidly adopting artificial intelligence to automate work once exclusively don...

Matt Egan, CNN

AI is replacing human tasks faster than you think

Nearly half (46%) of large US firms plan to use AI within the next year to automate tasks previously done by employees according to a study.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Police: DNA technology connects man to Florida serial rapes