Superior DNA expertise helped South Florida chilly case investigators hyperlink a person often called the “pillowcase rapist” to a string of sexual assaults stemming again to the Nineteen Eighties.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Workplace introduced Tuesday that Robert Kohler, 62, had been tied to 6 rapes after its chilly case unit, fashioned in 2019 to handle about 350 circumstances with dead-end leads, was capable of hyperlink the crimes utilizing DNA.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony mentioned Koehler, who has been incarcerated in Miami-Dade County since January 2020 on expenses of sexual battery towards one lady within the early Nineteen Eighties, could have dedicated between 40 and 45 rapes within the larger Miami space.
Koehler is accused of breaking into the houses of girls at night time or early within the morning as they both ready for mattress or slept, sometimes along with his face coated by a pillowcase or different material and carrying a pointy weapon, based on Broward authorities.
Authorities mentioned he would threaten victims and their households in the event that they mentioned something or screamed. He sometimes would tie their arms and or their ft through the assaults, mentioned cold-case Sgt. Kami Floyd. The suspect would then steal from the condominium earlier than making his getaway, authorities mentioned.
The Broward Sheriff’s Workplace believes Koehler struck no less than eight occasions between 1984 and 1985, based on a information launch.
Extra: Girl dies from uncommon Powassan virus in Connecticut, well being division says
Whereas the circumstances garnered intensive media protection within the Nineteen Eighties, even inflicting officers to launch a brand new South Florida legislation enforcement process power to research them, the path went chilly within the Nineties.
The blood-typing expertise out there on the time was not sufficient to resolve the crimes, Floyd defined.
“The duty power that was put collectively … had no new data coming ahead. There have been no new circumstances, no witnesses, no victims and no person who may present something,” mentioned Floyd, who led the workforce that cracked the chilly circumstances.
She helped launch an initiative in 2019 to reexamine the division’s sexual battery circumstances through the years and take a look at all of its sexual assault kits, she mentioned in a video interview launched by Broward County Sheriff’s Workplace.
Extra: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac take steps to make it simpler to purchase a house
Floyd, who’s labored with the sheriff’s workplace about 9 years, mentioned she ran throughout a newspaper article mentioning the “pillowcase rapist” and 40 to 45 unsolved circumstances in Broward and Miami-Dade counties through the Nineteen Eighties and it piqued her curiosity.
With no dates and no sufferer names, Floyd mentioned she had little or no to work with. It took months of investigators digging by way of 500 packing containers of proof, every containing lots of of circumstances. Then she discovered a match: A lady who was assaulted in her Pompano Seaside condominium in June 1984. Quickly, she had an inventory of circumstances and victims.
“I fortunately did find one which matched,” Floyd mentioned of the primary case. “With the assistance of our crime lab, (I situated) in a freezer some specimens that belonged to different victims that had an inventory of (eight) names that we believed to be associated to the ‘pillowcase rapist,’” Floyd mentioned.
Developments in DNA expertise allowed the lab to retest the specimens and kind a full DNA profile of the suspect, Floyd mentioned.
Across the time her workforce started testing, Miami-Dade authorities introduced the arrest of Koehler in early 2020.
In accordance with an arrest warrant, investigators received their breakthrough after they obtained a DNA pattern from Koehler’s son following an unrelated arrest. That pattern was then linked to an assault in 1983, main detectives to Brevard County the place they adopted Koehler to acquire DNA samples from objects he touched.
Extra: Golden State Killer sentenced to life with out parole for 26 rapes, murders
Extra: Man often called the ‘I-65 killer’ has been revealed, bringing closure to decadeslong search
“At that time, since we knew we had an identifiable individual, we have been capable of write a search warrant and acquire one other swab from Robert Koehler that matched our DNA sort that we have been capable of pull from our specimens within the freezer,” Floyd mentioned.
It was a match, she mentioned.
Broward County’s chilly case unit detectives labored with Broward State Lawyer’s Workplace prosecutors to cost Koehler in six sexual assault circumstances, based on the sheriff’s workplace.
“When I discovered my first case, it really saddened me to have to achieve out to that sufferer and have her relive what had occurred so a few years in the past,” Floyd mentioned.
It was heartbreaking in lots of circumstances, she added, as a result of some ladies had not even instructed their households what had occurred to them. She mentioned among the victims instructed her they would wish to speak it over with their households earlier than discussing it along with her.
“However after they did resolve to return again and have been courageous sufficient to debate it with me, I used to be very pleased with them,” she mentioned.
Their tales have been all related. They lived alone. They have been assaulted at night time, and the attacker apparently knew their habits, together with in some circumstances the format of their residences.
Now, these victims are very relieved to know the person who attacked them could also be delivered to justice, she mentioned.
“A number of of them have commented that they hope extra ladies will come ahead,” Floyd mentioned.
Floyd defined there are such a lot of sexual assault circumstances within the chilly case recordsdata, many from a time earlier than data have been computerized, making it troublesome to match them.
“For individuals who haven’t come ahead but, this can convey you some closure,” she mentioned.
Contributing: The Related Press
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: DNA hyperlinks man to South Florida ‘pillowcase rapist’ circumstances: cops
Share this content: