Ah, New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. While Manhattan's Times Square might be an area you wish to avoid at all costs these days (ugh, tourists), people were desperate to avoid the famous Midtown area for entirely different reasons in the 1970s and '80s. Not only was it run down, but it was also seedy, sleazy, and downright dangerous.
In December 1979, 42nd Street saw a shocking crime. When a fire burned in the Travel Inn Motor Hotel's room 417, firefighters were called to the scene. The scorching room, however, turned out to be the least of their worries. The first responders discovered two female bodies in the room — and by "bodies," we mean handless, headless torsos.
Richard Cottingham was the NYC serial killer who became infamously known as the "Torso Killer" or the "Times Square Killer." Where is he now?
Where is Richard Cottingham now?
A&E's two-night event The Torso Killer Confessions, which premieres on March 9, 2023, sheds light on Detective Robert Anzilotti's "decades-long journey" to "bring justice to cold case victims linked to serial killer Richard Cottingham," per the show's description.
As late as December 2022, Cottingham was confessing to killings that took place as far back as 1972.
Thankfully, the serial killer is still doing time in Trenton's New Jersey State Prison, where he's been for the last several decades. According to The New York Times, Richard was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison after being found guilty of five murders in 1984.
How did Richard Cottingham get caught?
Richard Cottingham murdered upwards of a dozen New York and New Jersey women from 1967 to 1980, and he claims to have about 100 victims.
The despicable sadist was finally caught on May 22, 1980, after a maid at a Quality Inn in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., heard screaming from his room. (The motel was the same location where Richard had murdered his last victim, so the staff was on high alert.)
The screams were coming from 19-year-old Leslie Ann O’Dell, a girl on the run from her pimp who was in the midst of being gruesomely assaulted for hours on end. After said maid went to check on the wailing guest, Leslie desperately hand-signaled for help and the maid called the cops. Though Richard attempted to flee the scene, police eventually cuffed the monster.
"Cottingham told me this weighs heavily on him because he doesn't know why he did the things he did," said Richard Cottingham's attorney, John Bruno. "He has deep regrets. He still doesn't understand why he did these things. But he feels relief knowing he has come clean for the families and for himself." Oh, how ugly and hollow that sounds.
The Torso Killer Confessions airs on A&E on March 9 and March 10, 2023, at 9 p.m. EST.