'Torso Killer' pleads guilty in 1968 Valley Stream murder, confesses role in 4 others
A convicted killer who claims he has killed at least 100 women has admitted to a decades-old murder and four other Nassau deaths.
Richard Cottingham, 76, pleaded guilty to the 1968 murder of Diane Cusick.
Cottingham, also known as the "Times Square Torso Killer," has been found guilty in more than 10 murders across the tristate area. Cottingham was featured in the Netflix true crime docuseries "Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer" just last year.
Months ago, Nassau police matched DNA evidence connecting Cottingham to the killing of 23-year-old New Hyde Park mom Diane Cusick, who had gone shopping for shoes and never returned home.
Police say Cusick was brutally beaten, murdered and raped in her car. Her father later found Cusick's body in the back seat of the vehicle in February 1968 at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.
Cottingham was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison for Cusick's murder.
Cottingham also admitted to four other deaths in Nassau County:
Mary Beth Heinz
Mary Beth Heinz, 21, May 10, 1972 - died by strangulation. Her body was thrown from the Peninsula Boulevard bridge in Rockville Center.
Laverne Moye, 23, July 20, 1972 - died by strangulation. Her body was thrown over the Peninsula Boulevard bridge in Rockville Centre.
Sheila Heiman, 33, July 20, 1973 - stabbed multiple times in Woodmere, discovered by her husband upon returning from a store.
Scene where Nieves' body was found.
Marita Emerita Rosado Nieves, 18, Dec. 27, 1973 - died by strangulation. Her body was dumped at the East Bathhouse bus stop on Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said Cottingham's motive was to satisfy his own rage, strength and twisted desires.
"Richard Cottingham killed who he wanted when he wanted because he is a serial killer," Donnelly said.
In total, Cottingham has been convicted of 17 murders with convictions in New Jersey and New York City.
Forensic historian Dr. Peter Vronsky says Cottingham didn't commit his crimes too close to home, but rather found a place where he would be comfortable.
All of the bodies of the five women in Nassau County were in close proximity to Sunrise Highway, an area that was familiar to Cottingham because his uncle lived in Massapequa and his wife's family was in Queens.
Vronsky has been interviewing Cottingham for five years.
"I would describe him as a werewolf," Vronsky said.
The Nassau County District Attorney's Office said that Cottingham wouldn't be prosecuted for the deaths of Heinz, Moye, Heiman and Nieves because he will be incarcerated for the rest of his life due to prior convictions.
Cusick's daughter told News 12 that she would be flying in from Florida for the court proceedings. One victim's family member said they had been waiting just over 50 years for a bit of closure.
Cottingham showed no emotions as victim impact statements from five different families were read. He appeared virtually, with the court seeing him sitting down in a medical gown from a New Jersey prison.
He did not offer anything to say during the hearing.