A serial killer known as “The Torso Killer”, who was already convicted of 11 homicidesadmitted on Monday that he also killed five women on Long Island in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Richard Cottingham was sentenced this Monday to between 25 years and life imprisonment for killing Diane Cusick23, who was murdered in February 1968 after shopping for shoes at the Green Acres shopping center in Nassau County.
As part of a plea agreement, Cottingham received immunity from prosecution for the other four murders. The 76-year-old inmate was at the hearing via video call from a New Jersey prison.
“Today is one of the most emotional days we have ever had at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office,” District Attorney Anne Donnelly said at a news conference where she was joined by several relatives of the Cottingham victims. “In the case of Diane Cusick, her family has waited nearly 55 years for someone to hold her accountable for her death.”.
Donnelly said Cottingham, who is believed to be one of America’s most prolific serial killers, “has caused irreparable harm to so many people and so many families, there’s not much I can tell them to comfort them.”
Cottingham has claimed he was responsible for up to 100 homicides. He has been behind bars since 1980. He is known as the “Torso Killer” because he allegedly lopped off the heads and limbs of some of his victims, authorities have said.
Authorities believe Cusick left her job at a children’s dance school and then stopped at the mall to buy a pair of shoes when Cottingham followed her to her car. They believe she posed as a security guard or police officer, accused her of robbery, and then subdued the 90-pound woman. Cusick’s body was found on February 16, 1968.
The medical examiner concluded that Cusick had been struck in the face and head and that she had suffocated. She had defense wounds on her hands and police were able to collect DNA evidence at the scene. However, at that time there were no DNA tests.
Cottingham’s DNA was entered into a national database in 2016 when he pleaded guilty to a murder in New Jersey. In 2021, the Nassau County police re-ran DNA tests on the cases of murdered women and found a match to Cottingham.
At the time Cusick was murdered, Cottingham was working as a computer programmer for a health insurance company in New York.
The other four women Cottingham confessed to on Monday were murdered in 1972 and 1973.
Donnelly said that when detectives questioned Cottingham at the prison, he gave them information about those four cases that only the killer could know.
The victim’s only daughter was present today at the murderer’s guilty plea, which was made by videoconference since he is admitted to a hospital, and thanked the authorities for continuing to seek justice for her mother over the years.
Protagonist on Netflix
In 2020, a woman befriended Cottingham, visiting him in jail, gaining his trust and getting him to confess to a few more deaths. The women jennifer weissand is the daughter of one of the victims of the murderer of the torso, Deedah Goodarzia 23-year-old prostitute of Kuwaiti origin, mother of a four-month-old baby who, years later, was going to face her mother’s murderer in jail.
An investigation into the criminal mind, in this case that of Cottingham, is what a Netflix documentary on the “torso murderer” attempts. They are laudable attempts to get into a sinister and unpredictable labyrinth, which tries to elucidate a perhaps silly question: how is it that someone who was born perhaps to be a solo violin of the Liverpool symphony, ends up beheading women in a fleabag hotel in New York ? The results of that search are always meager, but the reconstruction of horror is always effective. Cottingham must feel in glory: the recognition took time, but it finally came.
The Netflix documentary begins with the murder of Goodarzi and another girl, never identified, because that night Cottingham killed twice. And then he goes through his history of horror.
The crimes committed by Cottingham did not have the informative deployment that other serial killers did, such as Jeffrey Dahmer, that cannibal that he kept the remains of his victims in the freezer of his house, nor as John Wayne Gaycy, the killer clown who killed more than thirty boys and buried them in the basement of his house.
If Cottingham feels that society was unfair with his crimes and continues to not recognize his ability, Netflix rescues him from oblivion, returns him to a role he didn’t have, to a recognition that his criminal mind doesn’t demand, but appreciates. Maybe now he sleeps peacefully.
(With information from AP and EFE)
The atrocious case of the “murderer of the torso”: he raped, mutilated and beheaded prostitutes and Netflix rescued him from oblivion