Man Admits To Killing Five Women In Infamous Long Island ‘Torso Killer’ Murder

A New Jersey inmate nicknamed the “Torso Killer” has pleaded guilty to a 1968 murder near New York and admitted to four other homicides, prosecutors said Monday.

Richard Cottingham – considered one of America’s most prolific serial killers – admitted to strangling 23-year-old Diane Cusick on Feb. 15, 1968, at the Green Acres Mall in Nassau County, officials said.

News: Richard Cottingham (Peter Karas / / USA Today Network)

News: Richard Cottingham (Peter Karas / / USA Today Network)

In addition to Cusick’s case, he also confessed to four other murders on Long Island, officials said.

“Today is one of the most emotional days we have ever had at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office,” District Attorney Anne Donnelly told reporters in Minola.

Cusick had quit her job at a children’s dance school and then stopped at the mall to buy a pair of dancing shoes when the New Hyde Park woman was strangled by Cottingham, authorities said.

“In the case of Diane Cusick, her family has waited nearly 55 years for someone to be held accountable for her death,” said Donnelly, who held back tears during a 40-minute meeting with reporters.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick on June 22, 2022 in Mineola, NY (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly holds a photo of Diane Cusick on June 22, 2022 in Mineola, NY (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Cottingham is in failing health and lives out his days in a New Jersey prison, serving life for the murders committed there.

The 76-year-old appeared via remote feed from New Jersey and appeared to be wearing a medical gown.

Nassau County investigators said Cottingham could be responsible for as many as 13 homicides in their jurisdiction, but those killings are the only ones they can positively link him to now.

He was nicknamed the “Torso Killer” due to the savage manner in which he mutilated some of his victims. Cottingham had also been dubbed the “Times Square Killer” for the murders he committed in New York.

Cottingham knew details of the five Long Island murders that had not been released to the public, and only the killer would have known, prosecutors said.

“Those are the five we could be sure he committed,” Donnelly said.

The other four murders now linked to Cottingham, prosecutors said, include:

Mary Beth Heinz.  (via Nassau County District Attorney's Office)

Mary Beth Heinz. (via Nassau County District Attorney’s Office)

  • The strangulation of 21-year-old Mary Beth Heinz, who disappeared on May 5, 1972. Her body was found near a creek in Rockville Center. “Today we celebrate justice for Mary Beth and my heart is full,” her sister Jeanne Heinz told reporters. “Honestly, I never imagined his case would be solved.”

  • The body of 23-year-old Laverne Moy was found on July 20, 1972, and her strangulation haunted her loved ones for decades. But his son John Moy said on Monday: ‘There have been dark days behind us but today the sun shines brightly because justice has been served.

  • Police and prosecutors have asked for the public’s help in locating the next of kin of Marita Rosado Nieves, an 18-year-old Puerto Rican woman who strangled herself on or around December 27, 1973. His body was found on Jones Beach. Authorities have been unable to locate any living relatives to share the news. The victim’s mother once lived in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

  • Sheila Hyman’s husband, 33, was out shopping and their children were leaving for summer camp when she was found beaten to death on July 20, 1973 in North Woodmere.

Sheila Hyman.  (via Nassau County District Attorney's Office)

Sheila Hyman. (via Nassau County District Attorney’s Office)

The victim’s husband, who died in 2004, had long been considered a possible suspect.

“But today we can say loud and clear to his kids and everyone else that he didn’t kill his wife,” Donnelly said. “Richard Cottingham murdered Sheila Hyman.”

Hyman’s daughter Randi Childs said she wasn’t originally going to mention the allegations haunting her late father – but changed her mind after Donnelly addressed the elephant in the room .

“He was a kind and generous man who loved our mother deeply and who spent too many years living in the shadow of his wife’s murder,” Childs told reporters.

“There is no reason for him to be suspected. My poor father lived with that until the day he died.

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