THE Times Square Killer reached infamy with a string of gruesome murders over at least 18 years as he targeted mostly sex workers and mutilated many of their bodies.
Richard Cottingham, also known as the Torso Killer, was arrested in May 1980 after the muffled screams of his last victim alerted hotel staff to his torture.
The staff was reportedly already on edge after Cottingham had murdered a woman in the same hotel just weeks before.
Cottingham, now aged 75, was originally found guilty of the murder of five women but later confessed to other deaths, naming his victims and how they died.
The serial killer, who remains in prison in New Jersey, admitted to more murders as recently as April 2021.
While he has officially been tied to eleven deaths, Cottingham has claimed that he killed between 85 and 100, but remains stubborn in revealing more details and the identities of the victims.
His story will now be relived on December 29 in a new Netflix documentary “Crime Scene: the Times Square Killer.”
The killer is believed to have targeted sex workers for his terrifying torture as he wanted to “punish” them.
He remained under the radar working at a health insurance company based in Manhattan while living in New Jersey with his wife, Janet, and their three children, Blair, Scott, and Jenny.
Working the 3pm to 11pm shift, Cottingham went scouting at work for victims through Times Square, which in the late 1970s was far from the vibrant tourist attraction it is known as today.
With crime on every corner, it was a paradise location for Cottingham to pick up sex workers for his deviant abuse without ever being found.
Among Cottingham’s most infamous crimes were the horrific killing of two women and the burning of what remained of their bodies in the Travel Inn Motor Hotel just off Times Square.
Deedeh Goodarzi, 22, and the body of an unidentified 16-year-old girl were found inside on December 2, 1979.
Cottingham had tortured the two women, decapitated them, and removed their hands, taking the limbs with him as he escaped.
As fire alarms rang, a hotel worker made the gruesome find of their charred torsos.
Goodarzi’s daughter has since befriended her mother’s killer in the hopes of finding where he left her head.
FIRST KILL AGED 21
Cottingham’s first known murder was in 1967 when he was only 21 years old, yet he did not admit to the killing until 2010.
He strangled Nancy Schiava Vogel, a 29-year-old mother of two, in her car in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.
The young mother had met Cottingham after playing bingo with friends and reportedly recognized him as a fellow Little Ferry resident.
Her body was found three days later nude and bound.
Through 1968 and 1969, he killed three teenage girls, also only admitting to the crimes decades later.
The youngest was 13-year-old Jackie Harp, as well as strangled 18-year-old Irene Blase and 15-year-old Denise Falasca.
In the early 1970s after these murders, Cottingham began to be picked up for a series of lesser offences.
He was convicted and fined for shoplifting in August 1972 and a year later arrested and charged with robbery, sodomy, and sexual assault.
The second case was dismissed, as were charges of unlawful imprisonment and robbery in February 1974.
Just six months later, Cottingham abducted Mary Ann Pryor, 17, and Lorraine Kelly, 16.
He reportedly dumped their bodies in a parking lot after taking them to a motel and drowning them in a bathtub.
“Like two little dolls at Christmastime,” one detective described the scene.
These murders are reportedly the only time that Cottingham ever showed any sign of remorse.
“I was with them for a couple of days… and got to know them,” he said as to why he remembered their names.
“To this day, I don’t even think they would have ever said anything. And that’s what bothers me because I probably didn’t have to do anything to them,” he added, according to the New York Times.
He only confessed to these murders last April.
KILLS RAMP UP
Cottingham’s murderous spree ramped up in the late 70s as his personal life deteriorated after the birth of his third child.
His wife filed for divorce in 1980 citing “extreme cruelty” and accusing Cottingham of going to gay bars.
It came after years of him refusing to have sex with her and starting an affair with a woman named Barbara Lucas.
Cottingham’s killings and assaults had reached a frenzied pace by the time of his divorce.
In December 1977, he had killed Maryann Car, 26, by tying her up and strangling her.
A year later, he attacked and raped Karen Schilt and Susan Geiger just a month apart.
Both were left for dead when he dumped them in New Jersey.
Geiger was pregnant at the time of the attack.
KILLING FRENZY AFTER DIVORCE
After the 1979 Time Square murders, Cottingham spiraled even further and attacked four women in 1980 – the year his wife filed for divorce – killing two of them.
Valerie Ann Street, 19, was found naked and bloodied on May 5 in a Quality Inn in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Maryann Carr’s body had been found years earlier near the hotel but cops could not link the crimes.
A week later on May 12, the body of 25-year-old Jean Reyner was also found strangled with her throat cut in the historic Seville Hotel.
Cottingham was eventually caught ten days later on May 22, 1980.
Up until this point, he had evaded any suspicion by successfully leaving no evidence at any other crime scene to point authorities in his direction before he was caught in the act.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Cottingham had picked up 18-year-old Leslie Ann O’Dell as she solicited in Manhattan and she agreed to have sex with him for $100.
They checked into the Quality Inn in Hasbrouck Height, where he had left the mutilated body of Valerie Ann Street just over two weeks before.
Cottingham then handcuffed O’Dell after putting a knife to her throat began to torture her, nearly biting off one of her nipples.
Her cries of pain eventually reached staff and guests who were on high alert after the previous murder.
Cottingham was caught by police in the hallway with handcuffs, a leather gag, two slave collars, a switchblade, replica pistols, and a stockpile of prescription pills.
He was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison in three separate trials.
Authorities have worked over the decades to try and identify another murder he may have committed.
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