FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – In June 1984, a woman living in an apartment in Pompano Beach endured a sudden, cruel and violent attack in the sanctity of her home. She was brutally raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment. After decades of wondering if the man who violated her would face justice, she now knows that he will, thanks to the Broward Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit.
According to authorities, Broward Sheriff’s detectives have identified her attacker as now 60-year-old Robert Koehler, the man known as the Pillowcase Rapist. The path to that answer began in 2019, when Cold Case Unit Sergeant Kami Floyd began digging through thousands of sexual assault cases from the 1980s. She found the Pillowcase Rapist case from Pompano Beach, which led to several other criminal cases in Broward jurisdictions. Sgt. Floyd’s timing was serendipitous. Around the same time, prosecutors in Miami-Dade announced the arrest of Koehler for a sex crime in that county. Following that arrest, Sgt. Floyd got a search warrant for Koehler’s DNA and subsequent testing done by Broward Sheriff’s Crime Lab found that his DNA matched the evidence in the Broward cases.
Broward Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit detectives worked with Broward Sate Attorney’s Office prosecutors to bring charges against Koehler in a total of six sexual assault cases. Koehler is currently in custody in Miami-Dade, and it is expected that once the Miami case is adjudicated, Koehler will be brought to Broward to face the charges against him.
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.
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On a case of this magnitude, many hands assist in the pursuit of justice. In addition to prosecutors, Broward Sheriff’s detectives commended the evidence gathering and meticulous record-keeping of the employees at the Broward County Nancy J. Cotterman Center. Their work in the mid-1980s on the original cases provided detectives the ability to test this evidence decades later. The Center offers important resources and assistance to victims of sexual assault.
Based on Koehler’s extensive criminal activity, detectives believe there may be more victims of his violence who have yet to share their stories. Anyone with information is asked to contact Broward Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit Sergeant Brian Tutler at 954-321-4200. If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477), online at browardcrimestoppers.org, or dial **TIPS (8477) from any cellphone in the United States.