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NYC Crime

Sadistic ‘Times Square Killer’ Richard Cottingham preyed on schoolgirls, suburban moms and sex workers during deadly N.Y.-N.J. spree

Confessed serial killer Richard Cottingham targeted innocent women across the New York area, from a suburban mom to schoolgirls to Times Square sex workers. And there may be many more — the New Jersey family man currently serving a life sentence in a Trenton prison has claimed responsibility for scores of additional murders.

The first target of the man who would come to be known as the “Times Square Killer” and the “Torso Killer” was Nancy Schiava Vogel, a 29-year-old mother of two who disappeared after heading out for a bingo game in October 1967. She lived in Little Ferry, N.J., once the same town where her killer resided, and was strangled after opting instead to visit a local mall.

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The latest victim identified was the second one killed. Long Island mom Diane Cusick, 23, was sexually assaulted and suffocated inside her car in a Feb. 16, 1968, attack while parked at a Long Island mall, authorities announced Wednesday.

Jaclyn Harp was just 13 when she was abducted and strangled while walking home from band practice on July 17, 1968. The Midland Park, N.J., teen fled when Cottingham asked her to come inside his car, but he snatched the girl off the street and her body was found a day later.

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In April 1969, 18-year-old Irene Blase of Bogota, N.J., was spotted by Cottingham while shopping in Hackensack. He persuaded the teen to go for a drink with him, and her strangled corpse was discovered the next day.

Denise Falasca, 15, was walking along the side of a road in Emerson, N.J., when Cottingham pulled his car over to offer a ride on July 14, 1969. She too was strangled and found 24 hours after meeting Cottingham.

Hitchhikers Lorraine Marie Kelly, 16, and Mary Ann Pryor, 17, were abducted and killed in August of 1974, with Cottingham later admitting he kidnapped and raped the teens before drowning them in a motel room bathtub.

Sixteen months later, X-ray technician Maryann Carr was abducted from outside her Jersey home and killed, with her remains discovered in the parking lot of a Hasbrouck Heights motel on Dec. 15, 1977. She lived in an apartment complex where Cottingham was once a resident.

Deedeh Goodarzi, described in one report as a “high-priced call girl” whose clients included Cottingham, was just 22 when killed alongside a second woman who was never identified. Goodzari was tortured and killed inside a Times Square motel on Dec. 2, 1979, with the killer beheading his victim and lopping her hands off. The killer set her mutilated corpse afire, and Goodzari was found lying alongside the other victim on the same bed.

Sex worker Valerie Ann Street, just a teen when she came to New York from Florida, accompanied Cottingham to a New Jersey hotel. On May 4, 1980, Street’s body was found at the same Quality Inn where Carr’s body was discovered. Cottingham had stuffed Street’s body under the bed, where she was found by an employee.

Next and last came hooker Jean Reyner, killed in gruesome fashion. Little more than a week after Street was slain, the 25-year-old prostitute was discovered inside the Seville Hotel in Manhattan, with her breasts severed before her body was set ablaze.


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