How Many Women Did Richard Cottingham Kill? Who Were His Victims?

Image Credit: The New York Times

When the authorities arrested Richard Cottingham in May 1980, he had been on a rampage across two states, torturing and killing multiple women. Netflix’s ‘Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer’ is a three-part docuseries that chronicles Richard’s horrific crimes and how the investigators connected cases from New Jersey and New York to him. While he was initially convicted of killing five women, Richard has since confessed to many more slayings. So, let’s find out more about what happened then, shall we?

Who Were Richard Cottingham’s Victims?

On December 2, 1979, the authorities were called to a hotel room in New York City after a fire was reported. Inside, they found the bodies of two women who were missing their heads and hands. The gruesome nature of the crime shocked everyone, and without fingerprints or a face, it was challenging to identify the victims. Eventually, clothing was used to confirm that one was 22-year-old Deedeh Goodarzi, a sex worker. The other victim was a teenager who was never identified.

Both women were strangled, tortured, and set on fire with lighter fluid. As the investigation carried on, another murder occurred about five months later at a motel in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. 19-year-old Valerie Street was found stuffed under a bed in handcuffs, strangled. On May 15, 1980, Jean Reyner was found in a hotel in New York City, tortured and strangled to death. Like the incident in December 1979, the hotel room was set on fire.

About a week later, authorities rushed to the motel in Hasbrouck Heights after an employee heard screams from one of the rooms. 18-year-old Leslie O’Dell, a sex worker, was being tortured by Richard Cottingham, then in his early thirties. The police arrested him in the hallway and soon connected him to the grisly murders in the area. They later learned that Richard had killed others, including Maryann Carr, who was found near the Hasbrouck Heights motel in December 1977.

Like Leslie, other survivors testified at Richard’s trial. According to the show, Karen Schilt, Susan Geiger, and Pamela Weisenfeld stated that they were drugged, kidnapped, and beaten by Richard between 1978 and 1980. Eventually, he was convicted for the five murders and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, bringing to an end a reign of terror that had women worried for their safety.

How Many Women Did Richard Cottingham Kill?

Image Credit: The New York Times

While Richard was convicted for the five slayings, he confessed to killing more women as well. In 2010, he admitted murdering Nancy Vogel, who was found in 1967 in Montvale, New Jersey. Richard also confessed to killing three teenagers in the New Jersey area in the late 1960s. They were Irene Blase, Denise Falasca, and Jacalyn Harp. Early in 2021, Richard admitted to kidnapping and murdering Mary Ann Pryor and Lorraine Kelly in August 1974, closing another unsolved case. He claimed to have murdered about 100 people, but the authorities have only linked him to 11.

Read More: Where is Richard Cottingham Now?