In 2002, Jennifer Weiss’ quest to find out more about her birth mother led to a shocking discovery. Jennifer’s mother was the victim of serial killer Richard Cottingham. Wanting more answers, she struck up an unlikely relationship with her mother’s killer. This has, in turn, helped authorities close cases that went unsolved for decades. Netflix’s ‘Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer’ chronicles Richard’s crimes and has Jennifer talk about her equation with Richard. So, let’s find out more about her then, shall we?
Who is Jennifer Weiss?
When Jennifer was about 24 years old in 2002, she decided to learn more about her biological mother. She knew that she was put up for adoption mere weeks after being born, and not knowing why was difficult to understand growing up. After contacting several adoption agencies in New Jersey, she heard back from one in Trenton that seemed to have information.
Through old newspaper clippings and other documents, Jennifer learned that her biological mother’s name was Deedeh Goodarzi, who had come with her family from Iran and made her living as a sex worker. On December 2, 1979, Deedeh and another woman were found in a burning hotel room in New York City, New York. Both victims’ heads and hands were cut off, and they were sexually assaulted. Jennifer learned that Richard Cottingham, a serial killer in jail for murdering five women, was responsible for her mother’s death.
In 2017, Jennifer decided to write to Richard because she wanted to know more about what happened to Deedeh. She said, “I felt invincible. I started to write Richard and ask him to put me on his guest list. I made it light-hearted and funny and made it really comfortable for him to say ‘Yes.’ That he would accept my friendship in return for information about my mom.” Jennifer did hear back from Richard about a month later, and he apologized to her.
Richard said in a letter, “I just don’t know what to say to you or how to say it. I can only tell you what’s in my heart and pray that you believe me. I am truly and deeply sorry, so very sorry, for all the pain I have brought into your life.” Soon, Jennifer went to see Richard in what became one of several visits over the next few years. Through their conversations, Jennifer learned that Richard was a client of Deedeh’s and had known her for about two years. He also told her of burying Deedeh’s head at the George Washington Bridge. However, the authorities have not yet found her skull.
Where is Jennifer Weiss Now?
Jennifer’s continued visits led to Richard talking about other women he had killed. She had spoken to the police regarding unsolved cases. According to Jennifer, her talks with Richard and work with a criminal historian helped close three cold cases. Richard had confessed to killing three teenagers in New Jersey in the late 1960s. In April 2021, she said, “I want to get as many closures as I can in the next six weeks. His health is just failing him. He’s not in a good way.”
Jennifer is a mother of four who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. She is a cancer survivor, and her social media indicates that she is single. Regarding the unlikely friendship, she said, “I’m doing this for the mothers who lost their daughters and my own mother. And for these girls that their lives were ended one night or day by Richard playing God. I’m not going to rest easy until we figure out who they were. So that’s why I do what I do.”