A notorious New Jersey serial killer who is serving more than 200 years in prison has confessed to three cold-case slayings of local teenage girls from the 1960s.
Richard Cottingham, 73 – known as the “Torso Killer” for the way he dismembered his victims – has copped to strangling Irene Blase, 18, of Bogota; Denise Falasca, 15, of Closter; and Jacalyn Harp, 13, of Midland Park, between 1968 and 1969, officials with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to The Post Friday.
“The Prosecutor’s Office investigations revealed that Richard Cottingham committed these homicides,” Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Rebein said.
Rebein added that the families of the three victims “were immediately and confidentially notified when the cases were solved.”
“There were no previous public announcements so as not to imperil continuing investigations,” said Rebein. “For similar reasons, there will be no further public comment on these or other similar continuing investigations by this office.”
Prosecutors would not say when they were able to get a confession out of Cottingham or when Cottingham made the admission.
Cottingham has been behind bars since 1981 for the brutal killing of six girls in New Jersey and New York between 1967 and 1980.
It was not clear whether Cottingham had been yet charged with the murders of Blase, Falasca and Harp, but the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said that it can confirm “the clearance of the following homicides committed by serial murderer Richard Cottingham.”
Harp was killed on July 17, 1968, in Midland Park as she was walking home from band practice, while Blase was abducted in Hackensack on April 7, 1969, and found dead in Saddle Brook a day later.
Falasca was abducted in Emerson on July 14, 1969, and found dead on July 15, 1969, in Saddle Brook.
The Bronx-born infamous killer, who is currently incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison, will be eligible for parole in August 2025, according to prison records, but it was not immediately clear how his latest confessions may effect that.
Author and historian Peter Vronsky claimed that detectives got the confessions out of Cottingham over the past 15 years.
“Those confessions were made sometime between 2004 and 2019 ― it began in 2004 ― through this ongoing dogged process,” Vronsky told NJ.com.
Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy
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