‘Torso Killer’ adds two life sentences to long murder rap sheet

‘Torso Killer’ adds two life sentences to long murder rap sheet
Richard Cottingham in 1980. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Richard Cottingham, the New Jersey man known as the “Times Square Killer” and “Torso Killer,” was sentenced last week to two additional life sentences for murdering two teenage girls in 1974, according to nj.com

Cottingham, 75,  who is serving time at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, N.J., was recently charged with still another murder — the killing of New Hyde Park woman Diane Custick back in 1968.  He has pleaded not guilty to that long unsolved homicide.

In April, Cottingham pleaded guilty to the kidnapping, sexual assault and killing of two teen girls who were hitchhiking to a mall in Bergen County, N.J. Police said Cottingham picked up Mary Ann Pryor, 17, and Lorraine Kelly, 16, of North Bergen before sexually assaulting them, drowning them in a motel bathtub and leaving their bodies in a wooded area in Montvale, N.J., according to nj.com

A Bergen County judge sentenced him to two additional life terms last Thursday for the two 1974 homicides.

Cottingham has murdered at least 11 young women in New Jersey and New York between 1967 and 1980 while claiming he is responsible for over 100 homicides, according to CBS News.

On May 22, 1980 Cottingham was arrested at the Hasbrouck Heights Quality Inn while he was torturing an 18-year-old sex worker Leslie Ann O’Dell after motel staff called the police, according to the NY Daily News.

He was convicted of murder in 1981, 1982 and three murders in 1984.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said Cottingham was traced back to Cusick’s murder after advancements in DNA technology. 

“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.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here