Netflix’s ‘Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer’ and A&E’s ‘The Torso Killer Confessions’ are two documentary series’ that explore the horrific crimes committed by serial killer Richard Cottingham. One of his killing sprees that lasted a few months eventually led to his arrest in May 1980, bringing to the fore previously unconnected homicides as well. Richard was then brought to justice, and over the years, he has admitted to committing even more murders. So now, if you’re curious to know what happened to him, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Richard Cottingham?
Richard was born and raised in a relatively stable home in the Bronx, New York, in November 1946. However, he had trouble making friends growing up, and after graduating high school, he simply worked for his father’s insurance company. Later on, though, he took a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield in New York as a computer operator. By all accounts, he then seemed to be leading an everyday life in Lodi, New Jersey, with his wife and three kids. But the arrest in 1980 changed everything, exposing his double life and deadly exploits.
Richard was actually arrested at the Quality Inn Motel in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, in May 1980. He was with Leslie Ann O’Dell, an 18-year-old sex worker. She told the authorities he’d picked her up in New York, and brought her to the motel in New Jersey under the pretense of helping get away from this line of work. Over there, he began to torture and rape her repeatedly. Leslie added, “He told me to shut up, that I was a whore, and I had to be punished. He said the other girls took it, and I had to take it, too. He said that uncountable times.”
At one point, Leslie grabbed Richard’s gun and pointed it at him, only to realize it was fake. She then screamed, and the muffled noises were heard by a maid, leading to the police being called. Richard was subsequently arrested, following which handcuffs, knives, prescription pills, gags, and other suspicious items were recovered from his being. Soon, he was connected to a series of murders in New Jersey and New York that had occurred over the previous few months.
In December 1979, Richard tortured, raped, and killed Deedeh Goodarzi and an unidentified teenager (Jane Doe) in a hotel in New York. He decapitated the women and cut off their hands before setting them on fire. In a similar case, he brutally murdered Jean Reyner, a sex worker, in another hotel in New York. Her throat was slashed and she was then set on fire. He also cut off her breasts and placed them on the headboard in the room. Richard was also connected to the murder of Valerie Street in New Jersey. His fingerprint was found on the handcuffs on her arms when she was located in a local motel.
Later on, the police also found a room in the basement of Richard’s home that essentially served as his trophy room. It contained many items that linked him to these murders. He actually kept things like jewelry and trinkets as souvenirs from the slayings, making it clear he was a monster with no empathy. Then, over the years, he confessed to murdering several more women, with his earliest being in 1967. Richard had also kidnapped 17-year-old Mary Ann Pryor and 16-year-old Lorraine Marie Kelly in August 1974 in Manhattan, New York. He took the girls to a motel, where he tortured and raped them for days before drowning them in a bathtub by pushing their faces inside and sitting on them. Richard then dumped the bodies in a wooded area in Bergen County. Though, per his own narrative, his first murder was before he’d even turned 17.
Where is Richard Cottingham Now?
At three different trials in New Jersey as well as New York, Richard was convicted of murdering Deedeh Goodarzi, Jane Doe, Jean Reyner, Valerie Street, and Maryann Carr (who was killed in 1977). He was also found guilty of kidnapping and assault, resulting in his sentence going up to more than 200 years. For the homicides of Mary and Lorraine, he then received two life sentences that would run concurrently with the time he’s been serving.
It’s also imperative to note that in 2022 alone, it was confirmed Richard killed Lorraine McGraw in 1970, Diane Cusick in 1968, Mary Beth Heinz in 1972, Laverne Moye in 1972, Sheila Heiman in 1973, and Maria Emerita Rosado Nieves in 1973 as well. He has been officially convicted of the latter five cases. Therefore, with these and his own confessions over the years, the now 76-year-old has landed several more life sentences, which he is currently serving at the level II medium-security South Woods State Prison in Bridgerton, New Jersey.