The rape suspect known as the “Ether Man” is on trial in Colorado for attempted murder, but it is far from the end of his saga in court. Whatever the decision, Robert Bruce has a long path of court cases ahead of him.
Bruce, 50, is wanted for over dozens rapes in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. Many of those crimes occurred in New Mexico, but CBS affiliate KRQE in Albuquerque reports prosecutors there believe it could be a very long time before he goes to trial in that state. He'll next be tried for a rape in Colorado, before any of the other states get a chance to present his cases to a jury.
The nickname “Ether Man” comes from the chemicals used to subdue the victims of the rapes. Norman, Oklahoma Detective Jim Parks told KKTV in February that method was used on many of the victims he is investigating.
Detective Parks began working the case after a rape in 2003.
Bruce became a suspect in the Oklahoma rapes, and those in the other states, when his DNA was entered to a national database following a 2009 peeping tom case in Colorado. Detective Parks heaped praise on Pueblo Officer Nathan Pruce, who was involved with that case.
Bruce was later convicted of trying to kill Officer Pruce with a propane tank that was rigged to leak into the Officer’s home.
According to KRQE, the DNA found on the propane tank matched DNA in 11 rape test kits from the 1990’s at a forensic lab in New Mexico. The state still needs to go back and re-test the samples.
Detective Parks says that during the years of his investigation in Norman, he met and shared information with investigators in Austin, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Parks suspects that Bruce will eventually be charged for crimes in those cities.
After Bruce was identified, he agreed to an interview with Detective Parks. At that time, Bruce explained that his first crime was in Norman. Detective Parks says that the victim was chosen after Bruce had already been peeking through windows for several months. Later, Bruce graduated to trolling locations where he knew college girls could be found and following them home.
Detective Parks says he sat with Robert Bruce and looked at maps. Bruce would point out locations where he had committed crimes and provided details that connected him to the incidents.
“He was, almost proud of his accomplishments,” Detective Parks said about Bruce. “In some cases, he was very boastful about his skills of being able to get into different houses at night.”
As a result of what he told the detective, Bruce will face 20 charges including burglary, rape and forcible oral sodomy.
Bruce reportedly told Detective Parks that he would plead guilty to the charges.