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Richard Cottingham, convicted serial killer, linked to 1968 murder of Long Island mother Diane Cusick

Admitted serial killer now accused of killing Long Island woman in 1968
Admitted serial killer now accused of killing Long Island woman in 1968 02:26

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A 75-year-old admitted serial killer who has been imprisoned for decades and is currently serving a life sentence was arraigned on new charges Wednesday.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, Richard Cottingham, who is now hospitalized, claims he is not responsible for a brutal Long Island cold case killing that has gone unsolved for more than 50 years.

Emotions spilled over for the family of Diane Cusick following the breakthrough in the case.

Prosecutors blame a violent sadistic serial killer imprisoned in New Jersey, who was arraigned in his hospital bed.

"I never thought I'd see this day. I had given up, but all these people got justice for me and for my mother," said Darlee Altman, the victim's daughter.

The year was 1968. Cusick of New Hyde Park, a dance teacher, left her 4-year-old daughter with her parents and drove to the Green Acres Mall to buy shoes and never came home. Her father found her bludgeoned and asphyxiated body in the back seat of her car outside a steakhouse between the mall and a drive-in movie theater.

Despite half a century of trying, the tragic case went unsolved.

"We believe this may be the oldest DNA hit to lead to a prosecution in the United States," Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said.

FLASHBACKSerial killer Richard Cottingham confesses to 1974 cold-case murders of New Jersey teens Mary Ann Pryor, Lorraine Marie Kelly

Cottingham's notorious past is being played out in a Netflix documentary, "Times Square Killer." The subject is also known as the "Torso Killer" due to his mutilation of his victims.

Cottingham is already serving a life sentence, but this time is claiming innocence. He responded with a not guilty plea at his arraignment.

"It was very overwhelming. He just had this dead stare. I felt like he was looking right at me, creepy." Altman said.

Prosecutors say DNA evidence left behind was retested and matched.

"Richard Cottingham used the guise of being store security or a policeman, and he would confront people coming out of the mall," Nassau County Police Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

Police say Cottingham overpowered Cusick and then beat and raped her.

"As you know, he is a seral killer. He had done this throughout the Tri-State Area," Fitzpatrick said.

"Darlene, we never got to meet your mother, but I can assure you justice never runs out of breath, no matter how many years have gone by," Donnelly said.

Believing Cottingham could be linked to additional cases in the area, using advanced technology, DA cold case investigators are now going through all unsolved murders of women between the years 1967 and 1980.

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