A 23-year-old mother was among the five women who were murdered by the “Torso Killer,” a New Jersey prisoner who is also known as the “Torso Killer,” outside a New York shopping center more than 50 years ago.
Richard Cottingham, who is currently serving life for 11 murders and is thought to be one of the most prolific serial killers in the United States, admitted to killing Diane Cusick in 1968 in front of the Green Acres Mall in Nassau County by entering a guilty plea on Monday.
In a press conference on Monday, District Attorney Anne Donnelly stated, “We consider it to be one of, if not the oldest DNA prosecutions in the United States.”
Cottingham, who virtually wore a hospital gown from a New Jersey prison, was given immunity from prosecution for the other four murders as part of a plea agreement. For the death of Cusick, Cottingham received a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
A serial killer known as the "Torso Killer" admitted Monday to killing a 23-year-old woman outside a Long Island shopping mall in 1968 and four other women decades ago. https://t.co/B6LlwD4Yne
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) December 5, 2022
In the history of the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, it has been one of the most emotional days, according to Donnelly. The family of Diane Cusick has waited nearly 55 years for someone to be held responsible for her death, according to the statement.
On the evening of February 15, 1968, Cusick came by the mall to purchase a pair of shoes, according to Donnelly.
“That evening, Ms. Cusick failed to return home. Later that evening, when her worried parents arrived in Green Acres, her father Bernard discovered his daughter strangled in the trunk of Diane’s Plymouth Valiant “explained Donnelly.
Prior to the case going cold, according to Donnelly, detectives worked on it for years.
“We were fortunate to receive a tip from our partners in Suffolk County in July 2021 that a convict in New Jersey may be accountable for other homicides here on Long Island,” Donnelly continued.
Thanks to developments in DNA technology, a DNA profile was created at the beginning of 2022, and we learned that it matched Richard Cottingham, a well-known serial killer.
Cottingham, 76, is currently serving a life sentence in prison for previous crimes he was found guilty of in New Jersey. Due to the brutality with which he executed his victims, he earned the nickname “Torso Killer.” Cottingham’s murders in New York City have earned him the nickname “Times Square Killer.”
Cottingham, who has been behind bars since 1980, has said he was accountable for nearly 100 homicides. Only a dozen murders have been connected to him by New York and New Jersey authorities thus far.
The four other victims were Sheila Hyman, 33, Laverne Boy, 23, Marita Rosado Nieves, 18, and 21-year-old Mary Beth Heinz. The deaths of all four women occurred in 1972 or 1973.
After Cottingham was given his punishment on Monday, the women’s relatives, including John Moy, whose mother was one of those killed, talked with reporters.
Although there have been some dark times, justice has been done today, thus the sun is shining brilliantly.