Real Life Crime

Richard Cottingham

When it comes to the presence of prolific serial killers, America has produced them in abundance over the years. For example, let us look at Ted Bundy – a lawyer by profession, Bundy was on the charm offensive when it came to the opposite sex. He always made a lasting impression on women. Unfortunately, this impression would turn out to be heinous in some cases, since Bundy was the scourge of more than thirty women in the mid to late seventies.

While Theodore Robert Bundy garnered the attention of local authorities and media alike, with a nationwide manhunt at the time and his depiction as a killer on Netflix, there are other cases which did not gain as much popularity.

Take the example of Richard Cottingham, a New Jersey native who officially murdered six women (between 85 to a 100 unofficially) in the same era. Dubbed the New York Ripper and the Torso Killer by the news, Cottingham was tormentor in chief of prostitutes mainly, who he would dismember and leave only their torsos for authorities to find.

An educated man who worked as a computer operator, Cottingham committed his first crime around 1967. His journey as a serial killer began when he kidnapped a woman from her residential parking space and carried her to a hotel. This became the scene of the crime as the victim’s body was found later by the police.

It was several years later in 1974 that authorities latched on to Cottingham in New York and charged him with his despicable crimes. However, the charges were dropped since there was no tangible evidence to support their claim.

By that time, Cottingham was a married man and his wife Janet had given birth to three children during the seventies. However, Cottingham was involved in an extramarital affair during this period. More disconcerting is that fact that he continued his quest of murdering and mutilating women in the same passage of time.

However, Cottingham carried out his most devastating work between 1978 and 1980. In this time period, he committed crimes against women across multiple cities. For instance, by the time his killing spree was over, Cottingham had killed women in not just New York, but in Hackensack, Teaneck and Hasbrouck Heights in New Jersey as well.

He would engage in a number of dark practices with his victims. They were typically found murdered and sexually assaulted as well as being dismembered. It was at this time that he was given the moniker of Torso Killer.

It wasn’t until May 1980 that Cottingham was apprehended by authorities in New Jersey. Before he could deliver the finishing blow to his latest victim, hotel security intervened and saved the life of another innocent girl.

This led to his arrest as police were able to obtain damning evidence that pointed to his killing spree and he was sentenced to an astonishing 197 years in prison for his crimes.

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