In the previous episode of “The Torso Killer Confessions,” we saw how Richard Cottingham mercilessly killed multiple women. In this episode, we will see more details about other women he killed in New Jersey and New York in the late 1960s. Detective Robert Anzilotti spent most of his career trying to get confessions out of Richard Cottingham, and he became obsessed with the cold cases on his desk. According to the detective, he became more protective as a father after hearing the gruesome ways Richard Cottingham killed his victims.
Richard appeared to be a typical father of three during the day, commuting to Manhattan for his well-paying job as a computer programmer from his home in suburban New Jersey. Cottingham’s facade of respectability, however, crumbled as night descended. He would then go around Times Square and take prostitutes to hotel rooms and kill them there. He also torched most of the hotel rooms to tamper with the evidence. He was caught for murdering five women, but Detective Robert Anzilotti had a gut feeling telling him that Richard was responsible for more murders.
After the horrible experience he shared with the judge during his trial for Nancy Vogel, Richard was not ready to talk to Detective Robert. However, that changed when Detective Robert started gaining his trust again. When Detective Robert got promoted to chief of detectives, Richard took pride in it and implied that Robert was in a higher position because of him and his confessions. According to Robert, Richard never showed remorse while confessing to his crimes. During one of his meetings with Richard, he revealed that he had killed an 18-year-old woman by strangling her to death in the spring of 1969. She had gone missing one evening as she waited for a bus to take her back to her mother’s house. Her name was Irene Blase. After hearing the gory details about how he killed Irene Blase, Detective Robert conveyed the sad news that he had discovered Irene’s murderer, who was already in prison for the rest of his life to victim’s family. However, Detective Robert wanted Cottingham to continue speaking, but in order to do so, he made an odd deal with the victim’s family. He asked the family if he could close the case without charging anyone, in order to get justice for the others, Irene’s family agreed to the deal and let Robert close the case. After some months, Richard confessed to another murder, that of a 15-year-old girl named Denise Falasca. He lured her into his car and promised her a lift. However, he raped her and then killed her.
Even though he said he didn’t enjoy killing, the forensic psychologist on the show believes he did enjoy killing the victims. His youngest victim was a 13-year-old girl named Jackie Harp, who was going home after marching practice. When Jackie Harp refused to talk to Richard, he stalked her and eventually murdered her.
In 2021, Detective Robert decided to retire from law enforcement. Over the course of his nearly three decades as a police officer, he was engaged in a psychological game with a serial killer for half of that time. When Richard was informed about the retirement, he asked Detective Robert to reconsider. Cottingham teased him with the prospect of one more revelation. The brutal deaths of two teenagers, Mary Ann Pryor and Lorraine Marie Kelly, who went missing in 1974 while attempting to hitchhike to a nearby shopping center. Detective Robert was just about to give in his badge when Richard started talking again. He acknowledged luring them into his car after they gave up trying to catch a bus to take them to the mall where they intended to shop. He took them to a motel instead and said he watched television with them. He kept the two girls in the motel room for three days and then drowned them in the bathtub one by one.
According to Detective Robert, this particular case embarrassed him. Upon hearing the details of how he raped and murdered women ruthlessly, Detective Robert decided he would not let him get away with these murders. Cottingham appeared in court in April of last year and confessed to killing Mary Ann and Lorraine. He received two life sentences to go along with his 200 years in jail. According to Detective Robert, he was just a game to Cottingham. Even though Detective Robert is now retired, he is still in the minds of the victims’ families. He never gave up on the cases he had on his desk and gave his best to bring justice to these families. According to Cottingham himself, he has killed over 100 women. Detective Robert said it was sad that it took him so long to solve these cases; however, it highlights the fact that the police did not give up on these cold cases. Retirement was very hard for Detective Robert since he loved his job; however, he did his job well over the years.