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'Torso killer' charged with 1968 murder of woman at New York shopping mall

A woman was killed in a car park at a Long Island shopping center five decades ago. This is the case of the “Torso Killer.”

Richard Cottingham was charged with second-degree murder in relation to the 1968 killing of Diane Cusick.

Cottingham, however, pleaded not guilty from New Jersey’s hospital bed, where he was already serving a life sentence.

According to authorities, Ms. Cusick, 23 years old, quit her job at a children’s dance school to go shopping at Green Acres Mall in Nassau County. She then bought a pair of shoes at Green Acres Mall when Cottingham came following her.

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The suspect then pretended to be a police officer or security guard, and accused her of stealing. He then overpowered the woman (7’4″, 98 lbs), said Captain Stephen Fitzpatrick, Nassau County Police Detective.

He said she had been “brutally beat, raped, and killed in that car”.

The victim had several defensive injuries on her hands, and the police were able collect DNA evidence from the scene.

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However, DNA testing was not available at that time and the case ended up being closed.

Cottingham was a computer programmer at a New York-based health insurance company when Ms Cusick died.

Image Cottingham (centre), admitted to the murder of two teens in New Jersey in 1974

In the 1980s, he was convicted in New York and New Jersey of murder. However, the law then didn’t require DNA samples to be submitted by those convicted.

In 2016, his DNA was taken from him and entered into a national database. He pleaded guilty in New Jersey to another murder.

Last year, Cottingham pleaded guilty for the murders of Mary Ann Pryor (17 years old) and Lorraine Marie Kelly (16 years ago).

Police in Nassau County received information that a suspect might be behind killings in the area, which is just east of New York City. They were taken into custody in New Jersey.

They ran DNA tests on cold cases again and found a match for Cottingham.

Cottingham provided additional information that led police to believe that he was the one responsible for the death, telling them that he lived near a drive in theatre which was right next to the mall.

He did not confess directly to the death of Ms Cusick.


“He wasn’t always a feeble older gentleman”

Cottingham requested to be arraigned via video feed from the New Jersey Hospital because he was in poor physical condition and bedridden.

Anne Donnelly, Nassau County District Attorney, stated that “He is a predator and no matter what he looks like in a hospital bed today, he wasn’t always a weak older man.”

He was just 22 years old when he murdered Ms Cusick. He was stronger than these women and was violent.

claimed that Cottingham, also known as The Torso Killer or The Times Square Killer has been responsible for at least 100 murders.

Officially, however, authorities in New York City and New Jersey have only officially linked him with a handful of cases so far, which includes Ms Cusick’s death.

Since 1980, he has been in prison since he was taken into custody after a motel maid heard his room being screamed at.

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