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A serial assassin generally known as New Jersey’s “Torso Killer” pleaded not responsible on Wednesday to a 1968 chilly case slaying of a 23-year-old girl at a New York mall.
Richard Cottingham – already convicted of 11 different killings and believed to be one among America’s most prolific serial killers – was arraigned on a second-degree homicide cost in reference to Diane Cusick’s killing on the Inexperienced Acres Mall in Nassau County.
Cusick is believed to have gone from her job at a kids’s dance faculty to the mall to purchase a pair of sneakers. Detectives consider Cottingham adopted her out to the car parking zone whereas pretending to be a safety guard or police officer and accused her of stealing earlier than overpowering the 98-pound sufferer, Nassau County Police Detective Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick mentioned.
She was “brutally crushed, murdered, and raped in that automotive,” Fitzpatrick mentioned.
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The health worker concluded that Cusick was crushed within the face and head and was suffocated till she died. She had defensive wounds on her palms and police have been in a position to accumulate DNA proof on the scene. Nevertheless, there was no DNA testing on the time.
Police interviewed dozens of individuals and retraced Cusick’s steps. However the path went chilly till a tip in 2021 led investigators to Cottingham. Investigators ran DNA checks on chilly instances and Cottingham got here up as a match.
Cusick’s daughter, Darlene Altman, mentioned she was overwhelmed when she noticed Cottingham on the video display within the courtroom. Altman was simply 4 years outdated when her mom was killed.
“He simply had this like useless stare. I felt like he was wanting proper at me,” Altman mentioned. “It was creepy.”
Cottingham, now 75, received his brutal “Torso Killer” moniker by leaving victims beheaded and dismembered in New Jersey and New York Metropolis, generally hiding physique elements which have by no means been discovered.
The convicted serial killer has claimed he was answerable for as much as 100 homicides, however authorities in New York and New Jersey have formally linked him to solely a dozen to this point, together with Cusick’s demise.
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Cottingham, who’s bedridden at a New Jersey hospital, is serving a life sentence for different killings. He has been imprisoned since 1980.
“He’s a violent predator and irrespective of how he appears to be like right now in a hospital mattress he was not at all times a feeble older man,” Nassau County District Legal professional Anne Donnelly mentioned in an interview with The Related Press. “He was a younger 22-year-old when he dedicated the homicide of Ms. Cusick. He was stronger, stronger than these ladies have been, and he was violent.”
Fox Information’ Michael Ruiz and The Related Press contributed to this report.