Richard ‘The Iceman’ Kuklinski known as ‘The Iceman’ due to the fact he would often freeze his victims to obscure their time of death, was described as one of the most violent contracted hitmen who worked for numerous prominent Mafia crime families. His death toll was widely believed to be between 100 and 200 men.
He was born 11th of April 1935 in the Polish section of New Jersey, born to a devout Catholic mother and an abusive violent alcoholic of a father, who beat Kuklinski regularly. His elder brother died from the abuse suffered at the hands of their father.
Unsurprisingly, it wouldn’t be long before Kuklinski started being violent, firstly he began killing cats in the neighborhood before committing his first murder at the age of 14, a teen in a neighboring gang, the body was never found. Later in life during an interview, he admitted to feeling empowered after committing his first murder.
Soon enough, anyone that annoyed Kuklinski was to be murdered, anyone that reminded him of his father, anyone that didn’t allow him to win at the pool table, and many other various ways. The police were unaware to what was occurring, they were under the impression that local ‘bums’ were killing each other.
Whilst working in a New Jersey loading dock, he met his future wife Barbara, he was however already married and had two boys, but he was persistent. Barbara later said that when she expressed doubts about her marriage he pierced her back with a hunting knife and confessed he couldn’t live without her, they married and she bore him three children.
Kuklinski’s criminal career included robbery, hijackings and pornography, but murder was his specialty. He earned Mafia respect at age 18 by killing a random man selected for him on the sidewalk, it was then he became the Genovese crime family’s indispensable hitman, he was a professional at killing often using guns, ice picks, hand grenades, crossbows and chainsaws to kill his victims, and due to his 6’5” height and his weight of 300 pounds he towered over his victims as he took their life away.
His favorite method of killing, which he would later boast about was a nasal-spray bottle filled with cyanide.
Kuklinski was skilled at disposing of bodies, he would remove anything that would trace the victim, such as fingers and teeth, then he would dump their bodies in rivers or mine shafts.
As well as working with the Genovese family he also worked for Newark’s DeCavalcante crime family and New York City’s Five Families, including the Gambino’s.
December 1986 was Kuklinski’s downfall, he was caught at the age of 51, and was sentenced to life in 1988.
Whilst in prison, he granted interviews with writers, psychiatrists and criminologists, he lapped it up, enthusiastically and excitedly telling all those that spoke to him that he had killed ‘up to 200 men’
Kuklinski died on March 5, 2006 at the age of 70, in Trenton, New Jersey, under mysterious circumstances.
He was set to testify in another crime family murder, and had told family members prior to his death that he was being poisoned, however his wife had signed a “do not resuscitate” order.
A week before his death, the hospital called Barbara to ask if she wished to rescind the instruction, but she declined.