Richard Cottingham, also known as the “Torso Killer” and “New Jersey Ripper,” is a convicted American serial killer who terrorized the New York City area in the late 1970s. “The Torso Killer Confessions” is a two-part documentary in which we see his confessions to various murders that he attempted. In the first episode, we see how Richard Cottingham has not given up all of his crimes. Most of his victims were prostitutes that he lured into hotel rooms by saying he would get them out of prostitution. We get in-depth details on how he killed several women. Richard Cottingham showed no remorse in his confessions and always found an excuse not to confess to the cold cases that Detective Robert Anzilotti had on his desk.
Detective Robert Anzilotti was hopeful of getting something from him and tried for six years to get him to talk to him. Often, Richard Cottingham would ask for his favorite food in exchange for talking to the police. He would also often say his inmates were making his life difficult whenever he talked to the police since they considered him a snitch. He would also say that sometimes the prison officers would look at him with suspicion.
Detective Robert Anzilotti had to take measures to even get him to talk. Richard Cottingham also said he did not want to hurt his children further by talking about the crimes he had committed, and Detective Robert Anzilotti would promise him that he would not use Richard’s words against him in court or the media. However, Richard was not willing to talk for several years. Despite his conviction, many of Cottingham’s crimes remain unsolved. It is believed that he may have killed as many as 100 people, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. However, he has never confessed to these crimes, and many of the details of his activities during this time are unknown. Since being caught in 1980 as a result of a motel maid hearing a woman screaming inside his room, he has been incarcerated. Authorities discovered the woman bound but alive, with bite marks and knife wounds.
Even though many of his victims were prostitutes, the detective said a lot of women were just housewives and teenagers, and by no means were they runaways or problematic children. Richard killed women ruthlessly, and age was not a factor. Many of these victims were really helpless individuals trying to live their regular lives. Richard was a computer programmer and came from a normal family. Often, he would say that he is not an ordinary serial killer who comes from an abusive family. His family was Catholic, and he was even married. However, when police searched his home, they found a room in which even his wife was not allowed to go. The episode also featured the troubles he was having in his life. Richard’s wife was going to divorce him and take his kids away from him. According to the tapes in the series, Richard said that was the breaking point for him, and he went crazy after that.
According to the episode, Detective Robert Anzilotti was finally able to win Richard’s trust, and he started confessing in 2010. Detective Robert Anzilotti started working with Richard in 2004, and he was finally relieved when Richard started talking. He asked him about his first crime, and he said it was a housewife that lived near his home. Her name was Nancy Vogel. She was one of the 12 cold cases Detective Robert Anzilotti had to solve. Richard went into detail about how he met her at a supermarket and talked to her. Detective Robert Anzilotti started taping his confession, and he explained that he was in her car and raped her. He then strangled her. She was found in the neighborhood naked inside her car in the backseat. While confessing to the murder, he showed no remorse.
Despite the fact that he was promised that none of his words would be used against him, Detective Robert Anzilotti decided to call Nancy Vogel’s family and tell them about the crime Richard had committed. Even though he was in prison for the rest of his life, another trial took place in 2010. The judge in that trial was asked to keep the trial short; however, the judge stood up for the family and made Richard apologize to them in front of everyone. The case of Richard Cottingham is a tragic reminder of the horrors that some people are capable of. While Cottingham may be behind bars for the rest of his life, his legacy of violence and cruelty will never be forgotten.
Episode 1 of “The Torso Killer Confessions” ends with Richard telling Detective Robert Anzilotti that he would never talk about his crimes to him again and that Detective Robert Anzilotti had more unsolved cases to solve that he believed were linked to Richard.