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UPDATED: Alleged South Florida “Pillowcase Rapist” was Caught and Freed in 1990


Robert Eugene Koehler was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County around 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Additional details are now also emerging about Koehler. According to reports and court records, he was caught 30 years ago, but allowed to go free again.

On October 14, 1990, he placed an object over a Palm Beach woman’s face to hide his identity as he raped her. Police stopped Koehler later that morning for making an illegal turn. He was issued a few traffic citations, but the officer did not have a physical description of the rape suspect, so he let Koehler go on his way.

Four days later, Palm Beach Police interviewed Koehler about his whereabouts the night of the rape and charged him with sexual battery. He pleaded guilty in February 1991. Court records show that he was ordered to pay more than $6,000 in fines.

The following month, he was sentenced to 18 months of community control supervision and surveillance, as well as another seven years of probation.

He also agreed to pay $50 a month for his supervision, to not change his address or carry any weapons, and to report to his community control officer at least four times every week.

In May of 1991, the terms of Koehler’s community control were reduced by a third.

On September 5, 1991, he violated those terms by failing to complete a psychological evaluation and treatment.

In an affidavit, Koehler’s community control officer said the suspect had been recently discharged from a counseling center for a “lack of compliance and cooperation.”

Koehler was re-arrested in Boynton Beach.

On October 31, 1991, he was sentenced to 120 days in jail, followed by another six months of community control and seven years of probation. He also received 58 days of credit for time served.

He is now facing charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, and is being held without bond.



Local authorities say they have arrested a man they believe is the “Pillowcase Rapist,” who is blamed for attacking more than 40 women in South Florida during the early 1980s.

Law enforcement officials have identified the suspect as 60-year-old Robert Eugene Koehler, a registered sex offender from Palm Bay.

He was arrested on Saturday and is being held at a jail in Brevard County, awaiting transfer to Miami-Dade.

The Pillowcase Rapist allegedly terrorized women in an area stretching from South Miami to Deerfield Beach between May 1981 and February 1986.

Photo courtesy: Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

Using a pillowcase, towel or shirt in order to hide his identity, the rapist broke into town homes and apartments, attacking at least 44 women during that timeframe.

Detectives were unable to identify the Pillowcase Rapist for years, despite a large-scale manhunt that included conducting stakeouts, checking hundreds of leads, passing out fliers and creating a sculpture from one victim who saw the attacker’s face.

The task force which was created to find the attacker was disbanded in 1987.

At that time, police detectives stated that the rapist was most likely young, athletic and white, with no distinguishable accent. Lab tests allowed them to conclude that his blood type was O, albeit with a rare sub-grouping characteristic that is found among just one percent of the population. They also knew that he wore a size 10 1/2 shoe.

Among the victims were a schoolteacher, nurse, airline flight attendant, artist, model, health spa instructor, insurance executive, publicist, and a student. All but one of them lived in townhouses or apartments. The attacker typically entered the homes through unlocked sliding glass doors and open windows, threatening his victims with a knife, assaulting them quickly and sometimes also stealing cash.

The case was investigated at that time by Miami-Dade police, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

Koehler would have been in his early 20s during the years in which the rapes took place. The FDLE lists him as a registered sex offender for a sexual battery conviction that occurred in 1991 in Palm Beach County.

This is a developing story.