Incarcerated New Jersey serial killer Richard Cottingham apparently plans to plead guilty to five more homicides, all of women on Long Island.
Cottingham, now 76 years old, is serving more than 40 years in prison for the murder of six women in the Garden State between 1967 and 1980. He is currently housed in South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ.
Recently, he’s been devoting a lot of that time to boasting about his supposed involvement in other additional murders.
To quote what Cottingham said to Rolling Stone earlier this year, “For a long time now I have been attempting to understand the darkness that wrapped my spirit during my youth.” Whenever the sun went down and the moon rose, the animal form that resides in all of us took over and dictated my every move.
Using DNA evidence, authorities on Long Island finally charged Cottingham this past summer with the rape and murder of New Hyde Park dance teacher Diane Cusick, 23, in 1968.
Upon first questioning, Cottingham denied having killed Cusick in the Valley Stream parking lot of the Green Acres Mall. He’s changed his mind about that case, and he’s also pleading guilty to four additional killings on Long Island, Newsday reported on December 4.
On Monday, the Mineola court will hear the plea via video teleconference.
Cottingham, a resident of Lodi and an IT specialist for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Manhattan, admitted long ago to murdering two women whose dismembered bodies were discovered in a motel near Times Square in December 1979. As a result, the married dad of three got his horrific moniker, and he became the focus of a Netflix series that premiered about a year ago.
In the spring of 1980, Cottingham was apprehended after a hotel maid in Hasbrouck Heights alerted the police after hearing a woman’s screams. The 18-year-old who had been attacked by Cottingham was found alive, but with knife wounds and bite marks.
Cottingham was found guilty by juries in five separate trials in New Jersey murder cases. Former Bergen County (New Jersey) Chief of Detectives Robert Anzilotti was successful in having Cottingham plead guilty to more murders in the state.
In the first case, 13-year-old Midland Park, New Jersey resident Jackie Harp was kidnapped and later found killed on her way home from band practise in July 1968.
Cottingham also acknowledged to the murder of Bogota, Colombia native Irene Blase, 18, whose body was discovered strangled in Saddle River on April 7, 1969.
Also, on July 14, 1969, 15-year-old Closter resident Denise Falasca vanished from Westwood, and he eventually confessed to killing her. The next day, her dead body was discovered on the side of a road adjacent to a cemetery in Saddle Brook. They had also strangled her.
Cottingham, who was convicted of murdering Mary Ann Pryor and Lorraine Kelly, two adolescents from North Bergen, in 1974, finally confessed last year, the last confession Anzilotti successfully obtained.
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The bulky murderer claimed he picked up the girls from the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, took them to a nearby hotel, then raped, tortured, and drowned them over the course of three days.
Cottingham reportedly told the author of a book on American serial killers, Peter Vronsky, that he had killed between 85 and 100 women.
In Rockland County alone, two cases come to mind: that of Lisa Thomas, a Nanuet High School student whose father discovered her body near the Nanuet Mall, and that of Lorraine McGraw, a 26-year-old mother whose beaten body was found abandoned in South Nyack in 1970.
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Rockland officials, though, have reason to be sceptical of both accounts. In June of this year, Cottingham pleaded not guilty to murder charges related to the death of Cusick, a divorced single mother and dance instructor.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly revealed in a press conference that Cusick had been indicted because witnesses had testified that she had gone shopping for dancing shoes at a mall on the evening of February 15, 1968.
Donnelly claims that when her parents went looking for her at the mall when she didn’t come home, they discovered her body in the backseat of the Plymouth Valiant they had been using to get around. The prosecutor stated that Cusick’s hands were restrained and that she had been strangled while her mouth was taped shut.
Donnelly stated that resolution could be reached after a DNA retest by the Nassau County medical examiner identified the suspect as Cottingham.
“This 54-year-old cold case was solved and a suspect in Ms. Cusick’s terrible death was identified thanks to breakthroughs in DNA technology, the district attorney of Nassau County (NCDA) said in June. We pledge to her surviving daughter that her mother’s killer will be brought to justice today.”