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Who is Robert Koehler? 'Pillowcase rapist' who was nailed for his crimes using DNA wants case thrown out

A forensic investigator was questioned about the DNA results by Laura Adams, an assistant state attorney in the office of the state attorney for Miami-Dade County,
The 'Pillowcase Rapist' Robert Koehler's trial in Miami-Dade County continued on Friday (Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation)
The 'Pillowcase Rapist' Robert Koehler's trial in Miami-Dade County continued on Friday (Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Warning: The article contains recollection of sexual abuse that may trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.

MIAMI, FLORIDA: The evidence by one of the alleged victims kicked off the first day of the trial of a suspected serial rapist accused of targeting many victims in South Florida. Cameras filmed Robert Koehler, dubbed the "Pillowcase Rapist," as he sat silently in a wheelchair in a Miami courtroom on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

A Miami-Dade jury was informed on Friday, January 20, how Robert Koehler's DNA was connected to the crimes. They also heard from detectives who tracked Koehler in an effort to collect some of his DNA for analysis. 


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Who is Robert Koehler?

The now 63-year-old is accused in instances in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and was arrested back in 2020 in relation to unsolved 1980s cold cases. According to authorities, Koehler covered his victims' faces with blankets or pillows. The Pillowcase rapist harassed and assaulted over 40 women from South Miami to Deerfield Beach in the 1980s. DNA evidence tied him to a case dated December 28, 1983. In addition, DNA evidence has been found linking Koehler to at least six rapes, according to investigators. “Koehler is the source of that male DNA that was found in so many of those ‘Pillowcase Rapist’ cases,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated back in 2020, as reported by Local 10. com.

Jamie Bethel, a forensic investigator with the Miami-Dade Police Department, was questioned by Laura Adams, an assistant state attorney in the office of the state attorney for Miami-Dade County, about the DNA results. “Let’s assume for the sake of a hypothetical that this is also the man that you analyzed . . . Given those hypotheticals would you have an opinion (that this is) the DNA that was found on the vaginal and cervical swabs,” Adams queried. “I would say it was his DNA found on the body.,” Bethel replied.

Who were his victims?

On Thursday, January 19, his alleged victim in this case testified. She claimed she was 25 at the time of the attack and rape in her West Miami-Dade apartment. “I was jumped from behind, from the right side. He spoke to me kind of like in hushed tones, ‘Shut up, quiet,'” she said. “He covered my mouth, and he put a sharp object, which I ended up not seeing, a sharp object up against my stomach on the right side.” 

The purported victim, who requested anonymity, claimed Koehler led her to her bedroom. “Threw me down on the bed, and he covered my head with the blanket,” she said. “I recall him asking me, ‘Do you have jewelry, money?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have any, but my purse, my credit cards are in the living room.” The alleged victim claimed that she attempted to lift the cover at one point. “So I could maybe see him or see something. Once I did that, he hit me in the face. He broke my lip,” she said.

On Thursday, January 19, the doctor who evaluated the victim after the attack, the case's primary investigator, and Koehler's boyhood buddy also testified. “He told me that he was being framed, that he was innocent of what he’s charged with,” said the suspect’s childhood friend, as reported by 7 News Miami.

Edward Fernando Leyva, a witness who had known Koehler since he was a young child, claimed that Koehler called him from behind bars and requested him to notify the governor that he is innocent and that he is being set up. In her testimony, Terry Fonda, the defendant's former love partner, claimed that she had overheard Koehler swearing in rage over the prospect of his daughter submitting to DNA testing.

What sentence did he receive?

Although technology has progressed over the past forty years, prosecutor Laura Adams said the genetic evidence found at the crime scene shows Koehler was the perpetrator of the rape of a 25-year-old woman in December 1983. It's just one of several cases that Koehler is linked to, according to authorities. Additionally, six sexual assault instances in Broward County have seen him face charges, as reported by AOL. com.

Broward authorities said, "The investigation shows that Koehler carried out his attacks with diabolical precision. On at least eight occasions in 1984 and 1985, detectives believe Koehler snuck into homes in Broward County late at night or in the wee hours of the morning through unlocked doors and attacked his victims while they slept or prepared for bed. He sometimes covered the heads of his victims or his own head, sometimes with pillowcases, and threatened to kill them or their family members before raping and robbing them. The cases received extensive media attention when they occurred and a task force of law enforcement across South Florida was created to investigate the crimes. However, despite intensive work by detectives at the time of the attacks, the trail of the Pillowcase Rapist went cold. Technological advances in DNA testing and relentless work by detectives led to the identification of Koehler as the attacker." 

Koehler was charged in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties and will be sent to Broward to face the charges after the cases in Miami-Dade are resolved. On Friday, January 20, at about 2 pm, the state rested its case. The jury was dismissed. The trial will resume Monday, January 23, at 10 am, with the defense presenting its case. Koehler will most likely testify in his own defense.