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New Jersey Serial Killer Pleads Guilty More Than 40 Years after Committing the Murders

Afouda Bamidele
Apr 29, 2021
12:20 A.M.
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The 1974 cold case murders of two teenage girls have finally been solved after the New Jersey serial killer, Richard Cottingham, infamously known as the "Torso Killer" confessed his gruesome crimes.


Richard Cottingham became a name that shook the '60s to its core after he was convicted for the murder of innocent people. The infamous "Torso Killer" is making headlines once more after a shocking confession.

The 74-year-old convict recently confessed and pled guilty to the cold case murders of two teenage girls; Mary Ann Pryor, 17, and Lorraine Kelly, 16, that occurred on August 9, 1974, in New Jersey.

A portrait showing the iron bars of a prison cell | Photo: Pixabay


On that fateful day, the girls who were friends and residents of North Bergen, New Jersey, left their homes and were last seen by witnesses walking together on Broad Avenue in Ridgefield.

Pryor and Kelly reportedly told several people that they were trying to get to a Paramus shopping mall. Eyewitnesses also told police at the time that the two were hitchhiking.



They were last spotted getting into a car driven by an unknown white male. When they didn't return home that night, a missing persons report was filed for the girls with the North Bergen Police.

The New Jersey serial killer was initially convicted in the early 1980s.



Despite the efforts of the police, their bodies were seen five days later in the woods of North Jersey’s Bergen County. They were identified by their jewelry as their bodies were in a gruesome state.

The brutal crime against these innocent girls has finally received justice as Cottingham confessed on April 14, 2021, that he kidnapped and raped them for days before drowning the girls in a motel room bathtub.



The infamous Torso Killer who got his nickname from his unique killing technique which involved dismembering his victims and leaving behind their torsos will reportedly be receiving two life sentences in July.

As part of a plea deal, the 74-year-old will be serving his extra time along with his current life sentence in state prison for which he was convicted for precious murders.



Last year, the serial killer confessed to three more murders. However, authorities suspect that Cottingham's death toll is higher than eleven. This is because the 74-year-old allegedly claimed he is responsible for 100 killings.

Last year, the infamous Torso Killer confessed to killing three people namely Jacalyn Harp, Irene Blase, and Denise Falasca. All three women were reportedly strangled in the late 1960s.



According to sources, these women were murdered around 1968 to 1969. All three were kidnapped and found dead the day after their disappearance. Their deaths marked the ninth murders carried out by the serial killer. 

Cottingham was initially convicted in the early 1980s for the deaths of five women ― three from New York and two from Bergen County. His life story has also inspired books written by Rod Leith.