Serial killer indicted in ’68 murder of New Hyde Park woman

Serial killer indicted in ’68 murder of New Hyde Park woman
Richard Cottingham in 1980. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A New Jersey man known as the “Times Square Serial Killer” has been charged with the murder of a New Hyde Park woman in 1968 in the parking lot of the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly announced last week.

Richard Cottingham, 75, of the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton was charged with second-degree murder, the DA said. If convicted, Cottingham faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Cottingham, also known as the “Torso Killer,” is a serial killer and rapist who murdered at least 11 young women in New Jersey and New York between 1967 and 1980. 

Cottingham has pleaded not guilty to killing Diane Cusick of New Hyde Park and is due back in court on Aug. 18, police said. 

“Cusick was allegedly bound and murdered by Richard Cottingham,” the DA said June 22. “It was only through advances in DNA technology that the NCDA and our partners at the Nassau County Police Department, could solve this 54-year-old cold case and identify a suspect in Ms. Cusick’s tragic death.”

Cusick, a 23-year-old mother, was a resident of New Hyde Park and an instructor at an Oceanside-based dancing school when she told her family she was going to the Valley Stream mall to buy dancing shoes on Feb. 15, 1968, police said.

When she did not return home, Cusick’s parents drove to the mall where they found their daughter’s body, hands bound and mouth taped shut in the back of her Plymouth Valiant, police said. 

It was determined that Cusick died from asphyxiation due to strangulation. 

Cusick’s daughter, Darlene Altman, told Newsday she was relieved at the progress made in her mother’s case decades later.

“It’s odd to describe, it’s just happiness. I don’t know, joy. It’s like relief, relief that something now is finally actually happening,” Altman, 58, said.

The DA said that certain evidence was retested following technological advancements and a DNA profile allegedly matched Cottingham’s profile. 

“We make a promise to her surviving daughter today: We will bring her mother’s killer to justice,” Donnelly said.


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