‘Torso Killer’ pleads guilty to unsolved 1974 murder of two teenage girls

A US serial killer known as the “Torso Killer” has admitted to murdering two teenage girls in 1974.

Richard Cottingham admitted kidnapping and raping the pair and murdering them in a hotel room a few days later.

Cottingham pleaded guilty to killing 17-year-old Mary Ann Pryor and 16-year-old Lorraine Marie Kelly in August 47 years ago.

Cottingham admitted raping and murdering Mary Ann Pryor (L) and Lorraine Kelly (R)
Image:Cottingham admitted raping and murdering Mary Ann Pryor (L) and Lorraine Kelly (R)

The two had left their North Bergen homes on 9 August for a trip 13 miles north to a Paramus shopping centre.

They had planned to take a bus there to buy swimming costumes for a trip to the Jersey Shore.

The 74-year-old appeared in prison clothes at a court appearance on Tuesday with his lawyer and Bergen County prosecutors in their office.

On Tuesday, Cottingham admitted he kidnapped them, brought them to a hotel room and tied them up and raped them.

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He said he killed them by drowning them in the bathtub.

Cottingham is currently in state prison on a life sentence for other murders.

He has claimed he was responsible for up to 100 murders, but authorities in New York and New Jersey have linked him to 11 so far – including the two 1974 murders – though they believe the death toll is higher.

Cottingham has been in prison since 1981 but last year confessed to three of the murders dating back to the late 1960s.

He is known as the “Torso Killer” for brutally dismembering his victims by cutting off their limbs and heads.

Mary Ann and Lorraine were found five days after they went missing.

Lorraine was reportedly found with a beaded bracelet and a necklace that read “Lorraine and Ricky”, a reference to her boyfriend.

Mary Ann was discovered with a gold cross, a gift from her godfather.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said Cottingham is expected to get two life sentences in July, to be served concurrently with the time he’s already serving.

Cottingham didn’t make a statement during Tuesday’s hearing, but offered one and two-word answers to questions posed by state Superior Court Judge Keith Bachmann and prosecutors.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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