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'Ether Man' Robert Howard Bruce Charged with Serial Rape, Trying to Blow Up Deputy's Home

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 10:30 am

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Bruce is believed to have raped 11 women over 15 years
Robert Howard Bruce, 47, arrested last month in Colorado, is a suspect in the rapes of at least 11 women in New Mexico and Texas over a 15-year period. He was also recently accused of attempting to kill a Colorado police officer. Police believe he may have been involved in other crimes, and are looking at him as a suspect in a number of cold cases.

Bruce has been accused of breaking into his female victims' homes and placing a rag soaked in an undetermined chemical compound over their mouths to render them unconscious before carrying out the sexual assaults. Although dubbed "Ether Man" in the New Mexico cases, the chemical was not ether, according to John Walsh, spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department...

Walsh, however, did not disclose whether investigators have identified the chemical compound.

Detectives believe Bruce may have committed the violent sexual crimes from 1991 to 2000 in Albuquerque, and at least one other rape in 2006 in Austin, Texas. He is also suspected of being a peeping Tom, and police are checking out crimes in locales where he was known to reside from 1988 to 2003.

"It would not surprise me if there were other victims, but there is nothing that has come forth yet," Walsh said recently, adding that a recent DNA match to the Albuquerque rape cases was "gratifying and exciting for the cold case detectives."

Bruce was arrested by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department in Colorado following the discovery of a 30-pound propane tank that had been rigged to expel the explosive gas into the home of officer Nathan Pruce, who had been scheduled to testify against Bruce that same day in a peeping Tom case. Bruce was subsequently arrested for failure to appear in court, and for the attempted murders of officer Pruce and his family.

Held on a $3 million bond in Colorado, Bruce will likely face charges in that state before being extradited to New Mexico.

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