Richard Francis Cottingham (born November 25, 1946) is an American serial killer and rapist who murdered at least 17 young women and girls in New York and New Jersey between 1967 and 1980. He was nicknamed The Torso Killer and The Times Square Killer. In 2009, nearly 30 years after being convicted of five murders in New Jersey and New York in 1981–1984, Cottingham admitted to a journalist that he had committed at least 80 to 100 “perfect murders” of women in various regions of the United States. Four surviving victims testified against Cottingham; he was convicted in three of the abduction-rape survivor cases and acquitted in one.
In 1964, after graduating from high school, Cottingham worked for Metropolitan Life, where his father was a vice-president, at the firm’s headquarters office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in New York City. He started in the mail room and eventually became a mainframe computer operator after taking computer courses. In October 1966 he became a computer operator for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in New York, until his 1980 arrest. At Blue Cross, Cottingham worked in an office with fugitive serial killer Rodney Alcala, the “Dating Game Killer”, who was living in New York in 1969 under the alias “John Berger”; neither man has claimed to have been aware of the other, nor is there any evidence they were familiar with one another prior to either’s arrest.
On May 3, 1970, Cottingham was married at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village, New York. He and his wife had three children, two boys and a girl. In April 1978, his wife filed for divorce on the grounds of “abandonment” and “mental cruelty” (refusing to have sex with her after the birth of their third child, staying out until early morning, and leaving her with insufficient household funds). His wife withdrew the petition upon his arrest in May 1980, until after he was tried and convicted in the first trial in New Jersey, then refiled the petition and completed the divorce proceeding.