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Richard Cottingham

Torso Killer: 74-year-old confesses to murdering three teens

An elderly serial killer who is imprisoned in New Jersey for murdering six women has reportedly confessed to strangling three teen girls in the late ’60s.

Richard Cottingham, 74, is serving a 200-year sentence for killing six in New York and New Jersey between 1967 and 1980. On Friday, officials with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office told the New York Post that Cottingham murdered an additional three victims — Irene Blase, 18; Denise Falasca, 15; and Jacalyn Harp, 13 — between 1968 and 1969.

Cottingham has been imprisoned since 1981, a year after he was arrested in a Hasbrouck Heights motel room with a would-be victim whose screams alerted staff. While Cottingham was convicted for six murders, NJ Advance Media reports that he boasted about committing 85 to 100 slayings.

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Cottingham received the moniker “Torso Killer” for desecrating his victims’ bodies by severing their limbs, heads, and breasts.

In 2010, a Bergen County court convicted Cottingham for the 1967 slaying of Nancy Schiava Vogel, 29. Vogel was found strangled, naked, and bound in her car parked in Ridgefield Park.

Cottingham was also found guilty for killing Jacalyn Harp, 13, in 1968. The teen was walking home from band practice and had rebuffed Cottingham’s demands to get in his car when he dragged her into some bushes and strangled her.

In 1969, Cottingham met Irene Blase, 18, while shopping and convinced her to have a drink with him. After the drink, he told Blase he would take her to the bus station. Blase was found strangled in a shallow body of water four days later.

A decade later, New York City firefighters were responding to a motel blaze when they found Deedeh Goodarzi’s decapitated body on the bed. Cottingham tortured and killed Goodarzi, 22, before severing her hands and lighting her torso on fire.

Cottingham is suspected to have lit a second woman’s torso on fire. The still-unidentified victim was found next to Goodarzi’s body on the same bed. Cottingham was said to have fled the scene with the victims’ heads and hands.

In 1980, Valerie Ann Street was found dead at the same motel Cottingham was believed to have dumped a woman’s body two-and-a-half years earlier. Cottingham had stuffed her body under a bed for staff to find, author and historian Peter Vronsky told NJ Advance Media.

Prosecutors have not revealed exactly when Cottingham admitted to the three additional slayings. However, Vronsky told the news outlet that the confessions occurred between 2004 and last year.

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[Featured image: Richard Cottingham/Handout]