Serial killer Richard Cottingham admits to killing 5 women

Richard Cottingham

Richard Cottingham

A 76-year-old convicted tri-state serial killer known as the “Torso Killer” and the “Times Square Killer” has confessed to the killing of five women on Long Island.

Richard Cottinghamwho is already serving a life sentence for the murders of 11 people between 1967 and 1980, formally pleaded guilty Monday to the 1968 murder of a 23-year-old Diana Cusickas well as the murders of four other young women that took place between 1972 and 1973, authorities announced.

According to a press release from the Nassau County Attorney’s Office, the licensed serial killer appeared before the county judge Caryn Fink and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Cusick’s death. He also admits to killing Mary Beth Heinz, Laverne Moye, Sheila Heiman, and Maria Emerita Rosado Nieves.

“Serial killer Richard Cottingham has caused irreparable harm to so many people and so many families,” the Nassau District Attorney said Anne T Donnelly said in a statement. “Today he has accepted responsibility for the murder of five young women here in Nassau County between 1968 and 1973. He overpowered, attacked, and brutally murdered her to gratify his cowardly desires. Luckily he will spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs.”

Cottingham confessed to the other four murders in open court as part of a plea deal in which the prosecutor’s office agreed not to prosecute him for the murders if he closed the victims’ families and friends. Cottingham will spend the rest of his life behind bars on several other murder convictions.

Prosecutors said Cuisick was working as a dance teacher in Oceanside, New York, when she was murdered. Cuisick notified her family on the evening of February 15, 1968 that she was going to the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream to get a new pair of dancing shoes. When she hadn’t returned home by 10:30 p.m., her parents drove to the mall where they were able to find her car – a Plymouth Valiant – in the parking lot.

“The parents found Cusick’s body in the back seat of the car. Tape was found over her mouth and her hands were tied,” prosecutors said. “She was pronounced dead at 1:40 a.m. on February 16, 1968. The coroner determined that Cusick had suffocated from strangulation.”

Investigators said they were able to crack the case decades later, thanks to technological breakthroughs that allowed them to create a DNA profile for the alleged killer. Authorities said they ran this sample through law enforcement databases.

A few years later, in May 1972, the body of 21-year-old Mary Beth Heinz was discovered “floating face down in a muddy stream” in downtown Rockville. She had multiple abrasions on her face and neck. The cause of death was found to be asphyxiation by strangulation. The body of Laverne Moye was discovered by an 11-year-old boy in July 1973 in roughly the same spot. Both victims had been thrown over the same bridge.

The same day the child discovered Moye’s body, Sheila Heiman’s husband discovered that she had been beaten to death at their North Woodmere home. Her husband went to a department store and found the 33-year-old mother of three in the bathroom with multiple lacerations to her skull, a broken jaw and a slit throat.

In December 1973, the body of Maria Emerita Rosado Nieves was found discarded in a weed patch on Jones Beach. She had been strangled and wrapped in a blanket.

Richard Cottingham

Richard Cottingham

[image via Bergen County Sheriff’s Office]

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