A MAJOR update came on Wednesday, June 22, in the death of a woman who was suffocated with tape around her neck, with her murder now linked to the infamous “Times Square torso killer.”
Diane Cusick’s body was found over five decades ago in 1968, but no one had been charged with her murder.
Investigators said Cusick was strangled and raped in a parked car on Long Island on February 16, 1968.
“That evening, she told her parents that she was going to purchase a pair of shoes at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said.
“She never returned home.”
Cusick’s father found her body in the vehicle after looking for her.
The case went unsolved for more than five decades.
But new DNA evidence has connected the accused “Times Square Torso killer,” Richard Cottingham, to Cusick’s murder.
Cottingham, now 75, is behind bars in New Jersey for a series of murders committed in the 1970s.
Those crimes earned him the “Torso killer” nickname and were even documented in a Netflix show.
Cottingham was arraigned from the Saint Francis Medical Center on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty.
This could potentially be the 12th murder Cottingham is convicted of if he’s found guilty.
Officials provided new insight into what they believe happened the night Cusick was murdered.
They believe Cottingham pretended to be a police officer or a security guard at the mall.
Officials also think Cottingham may have accused Cusick of shoplifting before the killing.
“That is what we believe happened on that night,” said homicide squad Detective Captain Stephen Fitzpatrick.
‘KNOWN SERIAL KILLER’
New technological advances allowed investigators to match DNA left on Cusick’s hand to Cottingham, as she reportedly tried to fight him off, according to the New York Daily News.
“Now (he’s) a known serial killer, but then an unknown computer programmer in Times Square,” said Nassau prosecutor Jared Rosenblatt, head of the homicide bureau.
“Unknown to him, he left behind his DNA.”
Officials said he has also been linked to five other murders on Long Island.
A FAMILY’S GRIEF
Darlene Altman, Cusick’s daughter, was in attendance for the June 22 arraignment.
She was just four years old when her mother died.
“It was very overwhelming; he just had this dead stare,” Altman told News12.
“I felt like he was looking right at me; it was creepy, for lack of a better word.”
She said she didn’t believe there would ever be closure in her mother’s murder.
“I never thought I would see this day; I had given up,” Altman said.
“But all these people got justice for me and for my mother.”
CBS News reported that prosecutors are now looking at open cases from around the same time and running DNA to see if Cottingham may be behind other killings.