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Richard 'Torso Killer' Cottingham indicted for brutal 1968 Long Island schoolteacher murder

Richard Cottingham was charged in the death of Diane Cusick, whose body was found beaten, raped, and covered with duct tape in 1968 in Long Island, New York

Richard Cottingham
Richard Cottingham | Fotomontaje: ADN America

June 22, 2022 9:28pm

Updated: June 23, 2022 3:47pm

Convicted serial killer Richard Cottingham, known as the Torso Killer, was charged on Wednesday with the February 1968 murder of a Long Island, New York dance teacher after being linked to the unsolved case through DNA evidence.

Cottingham was charged in the death of Diane Cusick, a 23-year-old teacher and mother of a child, whose body was found beaten, raped, and covered with duct tape in her vehicle in the parking lot of Valley Stream's Green Acres Mall that year, just two days after Valentine's Day, NBC New York reports.

The 75-year-old defendant is already serving life without parole in New Jersey state prison after being convicted of the brutal murders of six young women between 1967 and 1980. Now, the Nassau County District Attorney announced the new indictment against Cottingham.

Authorities are also looking into Cottingham's possible involvement in at least five other unsolved murders on Long Island. DNA testing is pending.

Cusick's daughter, Darlene, thanked the police for solving her mother's case, according to the New York Post.

"I never thought I would see this day," Darlene said during a press conference. "I had given up, but all these people got justice for me and my mother."

The defendant appeared by videoconference before Judge Caryn Fink from his hospital bed at St. Francis Medical Center in New Jersey, where he has been receiving treatment for unspecified medical conditions.

According to the NY Post, Cottingham confirmed to the judge that he was in poor health and bedridden.

The finding of Diane Cusick's body

On February 16, 1968, Cusick had gone to Green Acres Mall to buy some shoes after work. Failing to return home that evening, her father went to the mall and found his daughter dead inside her vehicle, with duct tape wrapped across her neck and mouth.

Authorities said she had been raped and beaten before being strangled to death.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said the case stalled after vigorous police work days after Cusick's murder. In 2021, her office received new information about a New Jersey suspect who had been linked to several unsolved cases on Long Island.

Finally, in January 2022, a DNA profile was created and uploaded to a national database, which produced a match. "That led us to Richard Cottingham, whose profile was already in the DNA database," Donnelly said.