NJ ‘Torso Killer’ charged in 1968 killing of 23-year-previous girl at New York mall

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A serial assassin regarded as New Jersey’s “Torso Killer” pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a 1968 chilly case slaying of a 23-calendar year-outdated woman at a New York shopping mall.

Richard Cottingham – presently convicted of 11 other killings and thought to be one of America’s most prolific serial killers – was arraigned on a next-diploma murder charge in connection with Diane Cusick’s killing at the Green Acres Mall in Nassau County. 

Cusick is thought to have long gone from her job at a children’s dance school to the mall to get a pair of sneakers. Detectives feel Cottingham adopted her out to the parking good deal while pretending to be a security guard or law enforcement officer and accused her of thieving before overpowering the 98-pound victim, Nassau County Police Detective Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

She was “brutally beaten, murdered, and raped in that vehicle,” Fitzpatrick stated. 


The clinical examiner concluded that Cusick was beaten in the face and head and was suffocated right up until she died. She experienced defensive wounds on her arms and police were capable to collect DNA evidence at the scene. Nevertheless, there was no DNA screening at the time.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick during an interview with The , Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y.

Nassau County District Legal professional Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick during an job interview with The , Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y.
(WHD Image/Mary Altaffer)

Police interviewed dozens of people and retraced Cusick’s actions. But the path went cold right until a idea in 2021 led investigators to Cottingham. Investigators ran DNA assessments on cold scenarios and Cottingham arrived up as a match.

Cusick’s daughter, Darlene Altman, explained she was overwhelmed when she saw Cottingham on the movie monitor in the courtroom. Altman was just 4 several years previous when her mother was killed.

“He just experienced this like dead stare. I felt like he was searching proper at me,” Altman explained. “It was creepy.”

Darlene Altman, left, looks on as Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, right, holds a photo of her mother Diane Cusick during a news conference, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y. 

Darlene Altman, left, appears to be like on as Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, ideal, holds a photograph of her mother Diane Cusick through a news meeting, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Mineola, N.Y. 
(WHD Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Cottingham, now 75, got his brutal “Torso Killer” moniker by leaving victims beheaded and dismembered in New Jersey and New York City, in some cases hiding system areas which have never ever been observed.

In this image taken from a New Jersey Courts virtual hearing, Richard Cottingham, center, known as the

In this graphic taken from a New Jersey Courts digital hearing, Richard Cottingham, centre, acknowledged as the “Torso Killer,” pleads guilty Tuesday, April 27, 2021, to two 1974 murders, eventually closing the cold situation fatalities of teenage pals who had still left house for a excursion to the mall and under no circumstances returned.
(New Jersey Courts via WHD, File)

The convicted serial killer has claimed he was liable for up to 100 homicides, but authorities in New York and New Jersey have formally linked him to only a dozen so much, such as Cusick’s dying.

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Cottingham, who is bedridden at a New Jersey healthcare facility, is serving a lifetime sentence for other killings. He has been imprisoned given that 1980.

“He is a violent predator and no make any difference how he seems to be currently in a clinic bed he was not normally a feeble older man,” Nassau County District Lawyer Anne Donnelly stated in an interview with The . “He was a youthful 22-calendar year-outdated when he committed the murder of Ms. Cusick. He was powerful, much better than these women of all ages had been, and he was violent.”

WHD News’ Michael Ruiz and The contributed to this report.

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