Decades after five women were killed, their unsolved murders were finally solved on Monday inside a Long Island, New York, courtroom.
Convicted serial killer Richard Cottingham pleaded guilty Monday to killing 23-year-old Diane Cusick in February 1968 and was subsequently sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the Nassau County district attorney’s office said in a news release.
Cottingham also admitted to the deaths of four other women, Mary Beth Heinz, Laverne Moye, Sheila Heiman, and Maria Emerita Rosado Nieves, who were all killed in the 1970s, prosecutors said. But as part of a plea deal, Cottingham received immunity from prosecution for those killings, according to the news release.
"Serial killer Richard Cottingham has caused irreparable harm to so many people and so many families,” district attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement. “Today, he took responsibility for the murder of five young women here in Nassau County between 1968 and 1973. He overpowered, assaulted and brutally murdered them to satisfy his craven desires. Thankfully he will spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs.”
Last year, the county medical examiner's office began retesting evidence related to the case, the news release said. Then early this year, they were able to match the DNA collected at Cusick's crime scene to Cottingham, the AP reported.
Cottingham is known as the “Torso Killer" because he allegedly cut some of his victims' limbs off, authorities have said, the AP reported.
The 76-year-old has been serving time since 1980, the Associated Press reported.