Notorious ‘Torso Killer’ admits responsibility for several unsolved 1970s cold cases

Richard Cottingham
Richard Cottingham makes a remote appearance at a courtroom in Mineola, N.Y., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Cottingham, the serial murderer known as the “Torso Killer,” admitted Monday to killing a 23-year-old woman outside a Long Island shopping mall in 1968 and four other women decades ago. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig/AP

Notorious ‘Torso Killer’ admits responsibility for several unsolved 1970s cold cases

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Richard Cottingham, 76, dubbed the “Torso Killer,” admitted on Monday to five other killings that occurred over 50 years ago.

The serial killer is serving life in prison for murdering half a dozen women and girls throughout New Jersey and New York since the 1960s. On Monday, he admitted to strangling a woman in a Nassau County mall parking lot and four other slayings in a plea deal, according to prosecutors.

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In the past, Cottingham has also claimed responsibility for over 100 murders over the past few decades, per NBC News. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Diane Cusick in February 1968, for which he was indicted in June.

Cusick, 23, was a dance teacher and mother of one. She was found beaten, raped, and duct-taped in her car in the parking lot that year, two days after Valentine’s Day. Cottingham had allegedly pretended to be a security guard or police officer to get Cusick to go with him, something investigators believed was a trend in his homicides.

He also pleaded guilty to the death of Mary Beth Heinz in May 1972, Laverne Moy in July 1972, and the 1970s murders of Sheila Hyman and Marita Rosado Nieves. Prosecutors said he will not be prosecuted for the additional four murders but will have a 25-year sentence added to his current life sentence as part of the plea deal.

Prosecutors attributed their work in identifying victims and bringing closure to families to advances in DNA technology, as well as partners at the Nassau County Police Department.

“We make a promise to [Cusick’s] surviving daughter today: We will bring her mother’s killer to justice,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in June, announcing Cottingham’s indictment in Cusick’s murder.

Cusick’s daughter, Darlene Altman, had stood alongside law enforcement when the indictment was announced.

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“I never thought I would see this day, but all these people got justice for my mom,” Altman said. “It was overwhelming to see him on video in court with a dead stare.”

Cottingham received his nickname due to the notoriety surrounding his homicides: He was known for dismembering his victims. He has been jailed since 1981 and has since confessed to multiple murders.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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