A 76-year-old man serving a life sentence in a New Jersey prison for multiple murder convictions admitted to five more killings Monday.
Richard Cottingham, 76, pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder count in connection with the 1968 slaying of Diane Cusick on Long Island. He also admitted to killing four other women on Long Island in the early 1970s — Laverne Moye, Mary Beth Heinz, Sheila Heiman and Maria Emerita Rosado Nieves, according to CNN.
Cottingham, known as the “Torso Killer” made the plea as part of a deal in which he was not charged for the other deaths. Cottingham acquired his nickname due to the mutilated state in which some of his victims were found in a Times Square hotel in 1979, according to the New York Post.
Cottingham participated in the hearing on video from South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
Ailing serial killer Richard Cottingham — a.k.a. the Torso Killer — pleaded guilty to the 1968 murder of Long Island mother Diane Cusick. https://t.co/TOJu4bLmOl
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) December 5, 2022
“There are no words to describe how purely evil you are. You have stolen time and love from these people,” Nassau County Court Judge Caryn Fink said during Monday’s sentencing.
“The consequences of your murders and the brutality inflicted on those you killed have had a severe and lasting impact on the families of your victims. Make no mistake, Mr. Cottingham. Nobody has any sympathy for you. There is no sentence that I can impose that will truly be enough,” she said.
Material containing the suspected killer’s DNA was obtained from Cusick’s crime scene, but at the time, there was no DNA technology, according to CBS. Cottingham’s DNA was put in a national database in 2016 due to a New Jersey murder, and was matched against DNA from the crime scene in 2021 by Nassau County police.
“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. We make a promise to her surviving daughter today: we will bring her mother’s killer to justice, ” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly had said in June when the results of the test linking Cottingham to the crime were revealed.
CBS reported that Cottingham has claimed he killed more than 100 people.
The Post reported that Cusick, who was 23 at the time of her death, was found murdered in her car.
#Breaking Victim impact statements from daughter & brother of Diane Cusick; serial killer Richard Cottingham pleads guilty to her 1968 rape/murder at Green Acres Mall. Cusick’s brother called killer “beast and creep.” Daughter said her mom’s memory erased. pic.twitter.com/LaSLecrHRF
— Mary Murphy (@MurphyPIX) December 5, 2022
“I’m sure she tried to fight this animal off but he was so big and she was so small. He punched her face, put tape over her mouth and nose and then raped her,” Cusick’s brother, Jim Martin, said Monday, according to the Post.
“He turned our lives upside down,” he said, according to CNN.
“Like it was nothing he strangled the life out of my beautiful sister.” Martin said, telling Cottingham, “I just wish myself or my brother would have found you in the streets, and we would have torn you apart.”
Darlene Altman, Cusick’s daughter, said she was glad to see some semblance of justice, the Post reported.
“My mom was only 23 years old. She was brutally murdered. She was young, beautiful and a talented ballet and tap and jazz dancer… Her parents, my grandparents, found her in her car that dreadful night and were never the same again,” she said.
Prosecutor Jared Rosenblatt said he hoped it was some comfort for the families to know Cottingham will never be released.
He said the killer will certainly die in prison and “this plea and sentence will never bring back the last 50 years of unanswered questions, but it is my office’s hope that today will bring you some justice. It is our hope today that it will bring you some sense of closure.”
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