Richard Cottingham, convicted serial killer, charged in 1968 homicide of Diane Cusick

Greater than 5 many years after Diane Cusick’s lifeless physique was found within the car parking zone of a mall on New York’s Lengthy Island, authorities have linked her dying to the so-called “Torso Killer,” a serial killer already convicted in 11 different killings.

The suspect, Richard Cottingham — believed to be one in all America’s most prolific serial killers — was arraigned Wednesday on a second-degree homicide cost in reference to Cusick’s 1968 killing. From a hospital mattress in New Jersey, the place he is already serving a life sentence for different killings, Cottingham pleaded not responsible.

Mall Killing Serial Killer
Nassau County District Lawyer Anne Donnelly holds a photograph of Diane Cusick throughout an interview with The Related Press, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y. 

Mary Altaffer / AP

Whereas he has claimed he was answerable for as much as 100 homicides, authorities in New York and New Jersey have formally linked him to solely a dozen up to now, together with Cusick’s dying. He has been imprisoned since 1980, when he was arrested after a motel maid heard a girl screaming inside his room. Authorities discovered her alive however sure with handcuffs and affected by chew marks and knife wounds.

Cottingham requested to be arraigned Wednesday by video feed from the New Jersey hospital as a result of he was ill, bedridden and never ambulatory, Choose Caryn Fink stated. He wanted his lawyer, Jeff Groder, to repeat the decide’s questions a number of instances as a result of he has problem listening to, Groder stated.

“He’s a violent predator and irrespective of how he seems to be at present in a hospital mattress he was not at all times a feeble older man,” Nassau County District Lawyer Anne Donnelly stated in an interview with The Related Press. “He was a younger 22-year-old when he dedicated the homicide of Ms. Cusick. He was robust, stronger than these girls had been, and he was violent.”

Mall Killing Serial Killer
Richard Cottingham seems through video hyperlink at his arraignment, Wednesday, June 22, 2022 in Mineola, N.Y. 

Mary Altaffer / AP

CBS New York stories Cottingham beforehand confessed to kidnapping and killing 17-year-old Mary Ann Pryor and 16-year-old Lorraine Marie Kelly in 1974 close to a mall in Paramus, New Jersey. 

Authorities imagine Cusick, 23, left her job at a youngsters’s dance faculty after which stopped on the Inexperienced Acres Mall in Nassau County to purchase a pair of sneakers when Cottingham adopted her out. Detectives imagine he pretended to be a safety guard or police officer, accused her of stealing after which overpowered the 98-pound (44-kilogram) Cusick, Nassau County Police Detective Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick stated.

She was “brutally overwhelmed, murdered and raped in that automotive,” Fitzpatrick stated. The medical expert concluded that Cusick had been overwhelmed within the face and head and was suffocated till she died. She had defensive wounds on her fingers, and police had been capable of acquire DNA proof on the scene. However on the time, there was no DNA testing.

Police interviewed dozens of individuals, retraced her steps and by no means stopped attempting to find her killer. However the path went chilly.

“The police did a terrific job in search of any leads they might discover. “They spoke to tons of of individuals on the Inexperienced Acres Mall to see if anybody had seen Diane,” Donnelly stated. “Sadly, the path went chilly and the case went chilly.”

Cottingham was working as a pc programmer for a medical health insurance firm in New York on the time of Cusick’s dying. He was convicted of homicide in each New York and New Jersey within the Eighties, although the regulation on the time did not require individuals convicted to submit DNA samples, because it does now. His DNA was taken and entered right into a nationwide database in 2016 when he pleaded responsible to a different homicide in New Jersey.

In 2021, police in Nassau County obtained a tip {that a} suspect who is likely to be answerable for killings within the county, simply east of New York Metropolis, was locked up in New Jersey. They started operating DNA assessments once more on chilly instances and got here up with a match to Cottingham.

Cottingham additionally led police to imagine he was answerable for the dying by offering some details about the case, together with telling detectives he was close to a drive-in theater, which was subsequent to the mall on the time. However he stopped wanting confessing on to Cusick’s dying, Donnelly stated.

“He did not lay out a full admission. What he laid out was child steps alongside the way in which that we had been capable of put along with the assistance of the police division to fill in that story,” she stated.

Prosecutors are actually reviewing all open instances across the similar time and operating DNA to see if Cottingham might have been answerable for different killings.

“It was solely by means of advances in DNA know-how that the NCDA and our companions on the Nassau County Police Division, might clear up this 54-year-old chilly case and determine a suspect in Ms. Cusick’s tragic dying,” Donnelly  stated in a press release. “We make a promise to her surviving daughter at present: we’ll deliver her mom’s killer to justice.”  

Cusick’s daughter, Darlene Altman, stated she was overwhelmed when she noticed Cottingham on the video display screen within the courtroom. Altman was simply 4 when her mom was killed.

“He simply had this like lifeless stare. I felt like he was wanting proper at me,” Altman stated. “It was creepy.”

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