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'Torso Killer' Richard Cottingham takes credit for 1968 Nassau County killings

Diane Cusick
Nassau District Attorney's Office
23-year-old Diane Cusick was found dead in the backseat of her car in 1968. The New Jersey serial killer Richard Cottingham was indicted in her murder in 2022.

Convicted serial killer Richard Cottingham admitted in court to killing five Long Island women in the 1960s and 70s.

Cottingham has been in a New Jersey prison since 1981 after he was convicted of his first murders. Since then, he has pleaded guilty to more than a dozen murders — including an additional five women in Long Island. He admitted to a reporter that he committed between 80 and 100 “perfect murders.”

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly, granted Cottingham immunity from four of the Long Island killings in exchange for his guilty plea in the murder of Diane Cusick, a New Hyde Park woman found raped and strangled in the backseat of her car.

For Cusick’s murder, a judge added another 25 years to Cottingham’s current multiple life sentences. With Cottingham’s help, Nassau County police were able to identify his four other Long Island victims.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.