Richard Cottingham, One of NJ’s Most Notorious Serial Killers
Editor's note: The following story is about one of New Jersey's most depraved murderers. Some may find this story including some descriptions, unsettling.
There's been a lot of attention given to Rex Heuermann, the Long Island, NY architect who is suspected of being the Gilgo Beach serial killer. It's a bone-chilling story that seems to be made for movies.
Here in New Jersey, we've had our share of serial killers through the years, including one of the most notorious of all, Richard Cottingham.
At least 11 women and girls were brutally assaulted and killed between 1967 and 1980 in New York and New Jersey. His attacks were so brutal, he was labeled as the Torso Killer, due to the fact that he decapitated some of his victims, before setting them on fire.
By all accounts, Richard Cottingham seemed like a normal guy. He was a student-athlete and went on to work for Metropolitan Life, where his father held an executive position.
He later took a similar position with Blue Cross/Blue Sheild, where he was an everyday guy. He held this job for nearly 15 years before police charged him with murder.
Richard Cottingham was finally apprehended in 1980 when investigators were able to match fingerprints found on handcuffs that were used in a New Jersey murder of a woman named Valerie Street to Cottingham.
The victim's body was found at a Quality Inn where Cottingham had brought other victims.
In 1981, Cottingham was convicted of Street's murder and was sentenced to close to 200 years in prison. He would later be convicted of several other murders while claiming to have committed many more.
Today, he is said to be in failing health, serving his term at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, Cumberland County.