Richard Cottingham: The Torso Killer

Richard Cottingham is a prolific serial killer with a body count of up to 100 victims in the United States and Canada. He is described as being a “high-functioning” sociopath, as his career and activities were successful. He also maintained relationships with friends and family throughout his life. Born in 1941 in Essex County, New Jersey, Richard Cottingham would go on to become one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Throughout the 1970s, he terrorized New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ontario, killing between 50 and 100 people. His modus operandi included abducting his victims on the street, strangling them, and then dismembering their bodies. He tended to focus on sex workers, often leaving a trademark handkerchief tied around their necks as his calling card. Before he began his reign of terror, Cottingham had lived a seemingly normal life. He was a high school graduate and had worked his way up to becoming a successful businessman. He was married and had two children. Despite his normal appearance, there were always signs of something sinister lurking beneath the surface. He is known to have kept souvenirs from some of his victims, such as jewelry, purses, and driver’s licenses. Despite a lengthy police investigation and numerous tips from the public, Cottingham managed to evade capture for many years. Eventually, he was arrested in 1981 after an Ontario police detective recognized him from security footage at a hotel near one of his crime scenes. After his arrest, he was extradited to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to nine counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he remains today. To this day, Richard Cottingham remains an enduring mystery. His victims are thought to be much higher than what has been confirmed by police, and many questions about his motives and methods remain unanswered. His story is a chilling reminder of the potential danger posed by seemingly innocuous strangers.