Woman befriends mum’s killer who beheaded her and burned her body

A woman whose mother was tortured, beheaded and burned by the Times Square Killer has formed an unlikely friendship with the murderer in an attempt to find out about other victims.

Deedeh Goodarzi was one of two women killed by serial killer Richard Cottingham in a New York City hotel room on December 2, 1979.

Also known as the Torso Killer, Cottingham cut off the heads and hands of Goodarzi and his other unidentified 16-year-old victim and took them with him as he escaped.

Cottingham remains in a New Jersey prison for their deaths and the murders of at least nine other women and girls, but he has found a companion in Goodarzi's daughter, Jennifer Weiss.

"The magnitude of what he did is unfathomable," Weiss told NewJersey.com.

"But I became friends with Richard for my mother's sake and for my quest.

"I'm not going to rest easy until we figure out who they were. So that's why I do what I do."

First writing letters to the now 75-year-old Cottingham in prison, she began to visit him in 2017 and has since met with her mum's killer more than 30 times.

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She said: "I felt fearless. I felt invincible. I started to write to Richard and asked him to put me on his guest list.

"I made it light-hearted and funny and made it really comfortable for him to say 'Yes'".

Her decision to meet with him came after he apologised to her for the murder in a letter.

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"I just don't know what to say to you, or how to say it," said Cottingham in the handwritten letter.

He went on: "I can only tell you what's in my heart and pray that you believe me. I am truly and deeply sorry, so very sorry, for all the pain I have brought into your life."

Cottingham was originally convicted in the early 80s for five murders but over the past 40 years has admitted to six other killings while claiming to have gotten away with slaying between 80 and 100 people in a 17-year spree.

As recently as April 2021, he admitted to abducting, torturing and drowning Mary Ann Pryor, 17, and Lorraine Marie Kelly, 16, in 1974.

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She said: "Once I started to find out details about my mother's crime, that's when he opened the door to talking about other women that he killed.

"I believe we've got up to 75 cold cases."

The killer targeted sex workers in many of his attacks as it was believed he wanted to "punish" them but other victims have also included teenage girls, pregnant women and young mothers.

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Weiss said: "[He thought] that he could do whatever he wanted to. He could have prostitutes. He could go home to his family."

He didn't leave any evidence at crime scenes to connect the murders, leaving authorities unaware they were dealing with a serial killer.

It is believed the actual death toll of his murderous rampage will never be fully known or verified.

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