‘Torso killer’ confesses again: Official count at 9 women, girls — could be 100
HACKENSACK — A gruesome serial murderer who has claimed that he may have killed as many as 100 victims in a span of three decades, but who only has been convicted or officially tied to less than a dozen, has now admitted to killing three more girls in North Jersey.
Richard Cottingham, 73, alternately nicknamed the "Times Square Ripper" and the "Torso Killer," recently admitted he killed Jacalyn Harp, 13, of Midland Park; Irene Blase, 18, of Bogota; and Denise Falasco, 15, of Closter, all of whom were strangled in the late 1960s, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office confirmed the cases had been cleared but not did provide details, The Record reported.
“The families of these victims were immediately and confidentially notified when the cases were solved,” said the spokeswoman, Elizabeth Rebein.
Cottingham has been behind bars since 1980, serving a life sentence at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
Cottingham was married father of three children who led a double life of ruthless depravity, abducting and killing sex workers and other women.
In the early 1980s, Cottingham was convicted of killing five women — three in New York and two in Bergen County — and in 2010, he confessed to killing a woman in North Jersey in 1967.
His first known victim, 29-year-old Nancy Schiava Vogel, was found naked and strangled in her car in Ridgefield Park in 1969. He admitted in 2010 to this killing.
In 1977, he killed Maryann Carr, 26, after torturing and strangling her in a hotel before dumping her body outside near his former home.
He was convicted of the 1979 Times Square hotel killings of Deedeh Goodarzi, 22, and another woman who was never identified. Both women had been decapitated and their hands had been cut off. The body parts were never found.
Valerie Ann Street, 19, was found in 1980 at a motel in Hasbrouck Heights. Her body had been beaten and bitten. She was asphyxiated with tape over her mouth. Also that year the body of Jean Reyner, 25, was found at the Seville Hotel in Manhattan with her throat slit.
He was also charged with raping, kidnapping, drugging and beating several other women who survived.
He was finally caught in 1980 when police foiled his attempt to kill an 18-year-old sex worker he had kidnapped to a Hasbrouck Heights motel room.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.