Man admits to killing five women in infamous Long Island 'Torso Killer' slayings

A New Jersey inmate, dubbed the “Torso Killer” pleaded guilty to a 1968 slaying near New York City, and admitted to four other homicides, prosecutors said Monday.

Richard Cottingham — believed to be one of America’s most prolific serial killers — admitted to strangling 23-year-old Diane Cusick on Feb. 15, 1968, at the Green Acres Mall in Nassau County, officials said.

News: Richard Cottingham
Richard Cottingham is found guilty of the 1977 murder of 27-year-old Mary Ann Carr of Little Ferry, N.J., at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, N.J., on Oct. 12, 1982. Peter Karas / NorthJersey.com / USA Today Network

In addition to Cusick’s case, he also confessed to four other Long Island slayings, officials said.

“Today is one is one the most emotional days we’ve ever had the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office,” District Attorney Anne Donnelly told reporters in Mineola.

Cusick had left her job at a children’s dance school and then stopped at the mall to buy a pair of shoes when she was strangled in her car, authorities said.

“In the case of Diane Cusick, her family has waited nearly 55 years for someone to be held accountable for her death,” said Donnelly, who fought back tears at points of a 40-minute meeting with reporters.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick on June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick on June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y. Mary Altaffer / AP

Cottingham is in poor health and living out his days in a New Jersey prison, serving multiple life sentences on other murders, officials said.

Nassau County investigators said Cottingham could be responsible for as many as 13 homicides in their jurisdiction, but these slayings are the only ones they can positively link him to now.

“These are the five we could be sure that he committed,” Donnelly said.

Matthew Johnson contributed.

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