A convicted serial killer has been charged 54 years after a young mother was found dead, bound and strangled outside a shopping mall in New York, police and media say.
Concerned parents of Diane Cusick found her body in the backseat of her car after she never returned home after buying dancing shoes, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. June 22 press release. Cusick taught dance at the Long Island school and was 23 when she died.
Now Richard Cottingham, 75, who resides in a state prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey, is charged with second-degree murder after advances in UKTN technology linked him to Cusick’s death, said the district attorney’s office.
Cottingham, who has been infamously nicknamed the “torso killer,” has served time in prison since 1980 following convictions for five other murders, PIX 11 reported. He once told a crime historian that he had murdered more than 85 women.
The cold case involving Cusick dates back to the evening of February 15, 1968, when she called her parents and said she was going to the Green Acres shopping center in Valley Stream, according to the press release.
Cottingham is accused of impersonating a “security guard or police officer” at the mall to entice Cusick “to go with him”, NBC New York reported.
The district attorney’s office said in the statement that when Cusick’s body was discovered, she had “an adhesive tape” placed “over her mouth” and her hands were tied.
She fatally “asphyxiated from strangulation,” according to a medical examiner, the district attorney’s office said.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said in a statement that “we make a promise to (Cusick’s) surviving daughter today: We will bring her mother’s killer to justice.”
In early 2022, UKTN linked Cottingham to Cusick’s death after the Nassau County Medical Examiner retested evidence in the case in 2021, the statement said.
Cottingham appeared in court on June 22 for arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against him, according to the district attorney’s office. He is due back in court on August 18.
If found guilty, Cottingham faces up to 25 years in prison, the statement said.
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