Richard Cottingham is an infamous serial killer from New Jersey who became known as the “Torso Killer” due to his habit of dismembering his victims. The New York Post reported on Friday that Cottingham confessed to three cold-case killings of teenage girls from the 1960s. The paper got the information from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
Cottingham admitted to strangling 18-year-old Irene Blase after kidnapping her from Hackensack. He killed 13-year-old Jacalyn Harp after abducting her while she walked home from band practice. According to The Daily Mail, a cord from Harp’s high school banner was used to kill her.
Fifteen-year-old Denise Falasca was discovered dead in Saddle Brook after the killer abducted her from her hometown of Emerson.
Cottingham is already serving 200 years in prison for murdering six other girls in New Jersey and New York between 1967 and 1980.
The article states that it took detectives more than 10 years to coax the details of Falasca, Blase, and Harp’s deaths out of the killer.
Even though the confessions are not necessarily new (prosecutors declined to tell reporters when the confessions occurred), this is the first time the public is hearing about them, as detectives did not want to endanger their investigation while it was still ongoing.
“There were no previous public announcements so as not to imperil continuing investigation. For similar reasons, there will be no further public comment on these or other similar continuing investigations by this office.”
The article also states that the prosecutor’s office hasn’t confirmed whether Cottingham has been charged or not for the newly discovered murders, although Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Rebein confirmed that the victims’ families were notified.
Many people on social media were chilled to the bone by the latest news about the “Torso Killer.” Several social media users tweeted about the story to varying degrees of horror. Those who have followed the case for a long time claimed they always believed that detectives would discover more victims someday.
“Hope the families get some closure. This is so horrendous,” tweeted one person.
“I don’t understand what people are so evil. What drives you to this. It’s like something on ‘Criminal Minds,'” said a second person.
Cottingham is currently imprisoned at New Jersey State Prison. The New York Post article states he will be eligible for parole in August of 2025. It’s not yet clear how the three new confessions will impact his possibility for early release.