A woman whose mother was brutally murdered, dismembered, and burned has made friends with the serial killer who ended her life. Jennifer Weiss was only a child when Richard Cottingham killed her mother, Deedeh Goodarzi, in a New York City hotel in December 1979 along with another victim and their heads were never found. However, it’s his harrowing acts that inspired Weiss to reach out to Cottingham in the first place.
- Cottingham was also known as the Torso Killer. Weiss discovered that in addition to killing her mother and the other victim, he had also murdered at least nine other women. That’s when Weiss decided to go and visit him in prison in an attempt to get answers for his heinous actions.
- Weiss became friends with Cottingham after visiting him. While she knows that what he did is incredibly serious, she felt it was important to offer the murderer an olive branch. “The magnitude of what he did is unfathomable. But I became friends with Richard for my mother’s sake and for my quest,” she told NJ.com. “I’m doing this for the mothers who lost their daughters and my own mother. And for these girls that their lives were ended one night or day by Richard playing God. I’m not going to rest easy until we figure out who they were. So that’s why I do what I do.”
- Weiss only discovered what happened to her mother when she was 24. She grew up as part of an adoptive family and learned about her mom’s terrible fate via the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, who told her what happened. When she began doing more research, Weiss knew she needed to meet Cottingham face to face.
- Weiss has now visited Cottingham more than 30 times. Her first visit was in 2017 and now she and the 75-year-old have gotten together more than 30 times. “I started to write Richard and ask 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,'” she recalled.
- Cottingham has opened up about some of the crimes he’s committed over the years. Cottingham, who will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no chance of parole, knew the terms of his relationship with Weiss from the beginning. “I knew what I wanted and I made it abundantly clear. I’m giving you my friendship for details of the crimes,” Weiss said. She also told PIX11 that she’s been able to find clues about other unsolved crimes thanks to her friendship with Cottingham. “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.”
- Weiss and Cottingham may even be related. One thing that Weiss was shocked to discover was that the murderer knew her mother for two years before killing her. They may even be blood-related. “That’s something, unfortunately, I might have to deal with,” she admitted.