‘Torso Killer’ Richard Cottingham Indicted In 1968 Slaying Of Long Island Dance Teacher
More than five decades after the body of 23-year-old Diane Cusick was found murdered in her car, investigators have linked her death to a serial killer.
On June 22, 2022, Richard Cottingham, the serial murderer who is known as the ‘Torso Killer’ because of the way he dismembered his victims, was indicted by a grand jury for the 1968 murder of 23-year-old Diane Cusick. Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said that the case was solved only through advances in DNA technology, reported NBC New York.
75-year-old Cottingham, who has been in jail since 1981 after being convicted of 11 other murders, pleaded not guilty when he joined the proceedings via videoconference from his hospital bed where he has been receiving treatment for multiple illnesses and ailments. He told Judge Caryn Fink that he was bedridden and in poor health.
On the night of Feb. 15, 1968, Diane Cusick told her parents that she was going to the mall to purchase dance shoes, but she never came home. Her body was later found in her car that was parked at Valley Stream’s Green Acres Mall. The 23-year-old mother had been beaten, raped, and strangled, reported The New York Times.
"Cusick was allegedly bound and murdered by Richard Cottingham,” Donnelly explained in court. She also said, "We make a promise to her surviving daughter today: we will bring her mother’s killer to justice."
Darlene Altman, Cusick’s now-adult daughter, stood beside prosecutors and police as the indictment was announced. She has found some relief in the news that her mother’s killer is being prosecuted in the case. She said, “I never thought I would see this day, but all these people got justice for my mom.”
Detective Captain Steven Fitzpatrick said at a news briefing that Cottingham allegedly impersonated a police officer or a security guard to get his intended victims to go with him.
Robert Anzilotti, the Former Chief of Detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, believes that it’s possible that Cottingham has killed between 80 and 100 women, reported Rolling Stone. Cottingham remains in prison for his convictions in multiple murders in New York and New Jersey in addition to charges of sexual assault, kidnapping, and other crimes.