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Police mug shot of Richard Kuklinski, four years before his final arrest in 1982 at the age of 47
|Born||Richard Leonard Kuklinski
April 11, 1935
Jersey City, New Jersey
|Died||March 5, 2006
Trenton, New Jersey
|Alias(es)||The Iceman, The Polack|
|Charge(s)||Murder (5 counts)|
|Spouse||Barbara Kuklinski (divorced)|
|Children||2 daughters, 1 son|
Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski (April 11, 1935 – March 5, 2006) was an American serial killer who joined the mafia as a contract killer for financial support. The 6'4" (194 cm), 300 pound (135 kg) Kuklinski worked for Newark's DeCavalcante crime family and New York City's Five Families. He claimed to have murdered over 100, or possibly 250 men (his recollections varied) between 1948 and 1986. Kuklinski claimed to have committed his first murder at the age of 13. He lived with his wife and children in the suburb of Dumont, New Jersey prior to his arrest.
Early life 
Kuklinski was born in a rented apartment on Third Street in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Stanley Kuklinski, a Polish emigrant from Warsaw and a brakeman on the railroad, and Anna McNally, a daughter of Catholic Irish immigrants from Dublin and later an orphan, who worked in a meat-packing plant during Richard's childhood.
His mother abused Richard, beating him with broom handles and other household objects. She believed that stern discipline should be accompanied by a strict religious upbringing, and raised her son in the Catholic Church, where he became an altar boy.
Richard had two siblings. Florian died of injuries suffered by abuse from his father. The Kuklinski family lied to the police, saying that he had fallen down a flight of steps. His other brother, Joseph Kuklinski (1944–2003) was convicted of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl. When asked about his brother Joseph's crimes, Richard replied: "We come from the same father."
Criminal career 
By the mid-1950s, Kuklinski had earned a reputation as an explosive loan shark who would beat or kill those who annoyed him. Eventually, his criminal acumen brought him to the attention of Newark's DeCavalcante crime family, who employed him in his first gangland slayings.
"He came to Manhattan numerous times over the ensuing weeks and months and killed people, always men, never a female, he says, always someone who rubbed him the wrong way, for some imagined or extremely slight reason. He shot, stabbed, and bludgeoned men to death. He left some where they dropped. He dumped some into the nearby Hudson River. Murder, for Richard, became sport. The New York police came to believe that the bums were attacking and killing one another, never suspecting that a full fledged serial killer from Jersey City was coming over to Manhattan's West Side for the purpose of killing people, to practice and perfect murder. Richard made the West Side of Manhattan a kind of lab for murder, a school, he says."
Kuklinski later recalled,
"By now you know what I liked most was the hunt, the challenge of what the thing was. The killing for me was secondary. I got no rise as such out of it…for the most part. But the figuring it out, the challenge -- the stalking and doing it right, successfully -- that excited me a lot. The greater the odds against me, the more juice I got out of it."
According to author Philip Carlo,
"Richard was bipolar and should have been taking medication to stabilize his behavior, his sudden highs and lows, but going to see a psychiatrist was out of the question. He'd be admitting something was wrong with him, and he'd never do that."
In contrast to Carlo's opinion, however, Kuklinski was interviewed by psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz at Trenton State Prison. Kuklinski and Dietz spoke at length, in a videotaped interview, about Kuklinski's upbringing, family life, crimes, and other events in his past. Kuklinski told the doctor that he wanted to know what events or mental irregularities made him able to perform the acts of which he was accused. After a lengthy discussion, the doctor cited nature vs. nurture, stating that his professional opinion was that both played a part in Kuklinski's development into a hitman who could be functional in other aspects of life. The doctor elaborated that Kuklinski likely inherited antisocial personality disorder from his abusive parent(s) and that the abuse he claims to have suffered from his father reinforced violence, activities requiring a lack of conscience, and a lack of love. Dietz also stated that Kuklinski suffered from paranoid personality disorder 
Gambinos and Roy DeMeo 
Kuklinski became associated with the Gambino crime family through his relationship with the soldato, Roy DeMeo, which started due to a debt Kuklinski owed to a DeMeo crew member. DeMeo was sent to "talk" with Kuklinski and proceeded to beat and pistol whip him. Although Kuklinski was carrying a pistol at the time, he decided against using it; this earned him DeMeo's respect.
After Kuklinski paid back the money he owed, he began staging robberies and other assignments for DeMeo and the Gambino family, one of which was pirating pornographic tapes. In 2011, former Gambino associate Greg Bucceroni alleged that Kuklinski often traveled between Philadelphia, New Jersey and NYC handling a variety of concerns involving the Gambino crime family's pornography establishments including trafficking illegal pornography, debt collection and murder for hire on behalf of Robert "DB" DiBernardo and Roy DeMeo.
According to Kuklinski, DeMeo took him out in his car one day and they parked on a city street. DeMeo then selected a random target, a man walking his dog. He then ordered Kuklinski to kill him. Without hesitating, Kuklinski got out, walked towards the man and shot him in the back of the head as he passed by. From then on, Kuklinski was DeMeo's favorite enforcer.
According to Kuklinski, he killed numerous people over the next 30 years. Lack of attention from law enforcement was partly due to Kuklinski's ever-changing methods; he used guns, knives, explosives, tire irons, fire, poison, asphyxiation, and even bare handed beatings, "just for the exercise." The exact number has never been settled upon by authorities, and Kuklinski himself at various times claimed to have killed more than 100 people. He favored the use of cyanide since it killed quickly and was hard to detect in a toxicology test. He would variously administer it by injection, putting it on a person's food, by aerosol spray, or by simply spilling it on the victim's skin. One of his favorite methods of disposing of a body was to place it in a 55-gallon oil drum. His other disposal methods included dismemberment, burial, or placing the body in the trunk of a car and having it crushed in a junkyard. He also claimed to have left bodies sitting on park benches.
Despite Kuklinski's claims that he was a frequent killer for DeMeo, none of DeMeo's crew members who later became witnesses for the government admitted that Kuklinski was involved in the murders they committed. He was only photographed on one occasion at the Gemini Lounge, having reportedly visited the club to purchase a handgun from the Brooklyn crew. Kuklinski claimed to have been responsible for DeMeo's murder, although the available evidence and testimony points to the murderers being fellow DeMeo crew associates Joseph Testa and Anthony Senter, as well as DeMeo's supervisor in the Gambino crime family, Anthony Gaggi.
Before beginning his career as a contract killer while working a warehouse job in New Jersey, Kuklinski met and married Barbara Pedrici, his wife claimed on the The Biography Channel show Mobsters that once, during an argument in a car she told Richard she didn't want to stay in the car, felt a pain in her neck and when she touched it with her hand she felt and saw blood. Kuklinski told her, "that is an object lesson, never leave me." She claimed he stabbed her. Kuklinski and his wife had two daughters and a son. His family and neighbors were never aware of his activities, instead believing that he was a successful businessman. Sometimes he would get up and leave the house at any time of the day or night to do a job, even if it was in the middle of dinner.
Kuklinski earned the nickname "Iceman" following his experiments with disguising the time of death of his victims by freezing their corpses in an industrial freezer. Later, he told author Philip Carlo that he got the idea from fellow hitman Robert Prongay, nicknamed "Mister Softee", who drove a Mister Softee truck to appear inconspicuous. Prongay taught Kuklinski the different methods of using cyanide to kill his victims. Kuklinski also claimed to have purchased remotely detonated hand grenades from Prongay. Prongay allegedly asked him to carry out a hit on Prongay's own wife and child. In 1984, Prongay was found shot to death in his truck. Kuklinski worked for a period of time in the film industry (motion picture laboratory) in New York City, people who worked with him recalled he was a quiet man, a family man.
Kuklinski's method was uncovered by the authorities when he failed to let one of his victims properly thaw before disposing of the body on Clinton Road on a warm summer's night, and the coroner found chunks of ice in the victim's heart.
In the book The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, Kuklinski claims to have been responsible for the murder of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. After Kuklinski murdered him with a hunting knife, his body was placed in a 55 gal drum and set on fire. He was allowed to burn for "a half hour or so" and then the drum was welded shut and buried in a junkyard. Later, when an accomplice started to talk to the feds, there was a fear that he would use the information to try to get out of trouble. The drum was dug up, placed in the trunk of a car and compacted to a 4 × 2 foot cube. It was sold, along with hundreds of other compacted cars, as scrap metal. It was shipped off to Japan to be used in making new cars.
State and federal manhunt 
When the authorities finally caught up with Kuklinski in 1986, they based their case almost entirely on the testimony of undercover agent Dominick Polifrone, and the evidence built by New Jersey State Police detective Pat Kane who began the case against Kuklinski six years earlier. The investigation involved a joint operation with the New Jersey Attorney General's office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Kuklinski claims in the HBO interview that there was only one friend he did not kill (Phil Solimene). Solimene became a police informant and was the reason that he was arrested.
ATF Special Agent Dominick Polifrone had undercover experience specializing in Mafia cases. The New Jersey State Police and ATF began a joint operation. Detective Kane recruited Phil Solimene, a close friend of Kuklinski, who introduced undercover agent Polifrone to the killer. Polifrone acted as if he wanted to hire Kuklinski for a hit, and recorded him speaking in detail about how he would do it.
On December 17, 1986, Kuklinski met with a federal agent to get cyanide for a planned murder. He was arrested at a roadblock two hours later. A gun was found in the car, and his wife was charged with trying to prevent his arrest. He was charged with five counts of murder and six weapons violations, as well as attempted murder, robbery and attempted robbery.
Incarceration and death 
In 1988, a New Jersey court convicted Kuklinski of five murders and sentenced him to consecutive life sentences, making him ineligible for parole until age 110. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to the 1980 murder of NYPD detective Peter Calabro and drew another 30 years. In the Calabro murder, in which Sammy "The Bull" Gravano was also charged, Kuklinski said he parked his van on the side of a narrow road, forcing other drivers to slow down to pass. He lay in a snowbank until Calabro came by at 2 a.m., then stepped out and shot him with a shotgun. He denied knowing that Calabro was a police officer, but said he more than likely would have murdered him anyway.
During his incarceration, Kuklinski granted interviews to prosecutors, psychiatrists, criminologists, writers, and television producers about his criminal career, upbringing, and personal life. Two documentaries, featuring interviews of Kuklinski by Park Dietz (best known for his interviews with and analysis of Jeffrey Dahmer) aired on HBO after interviews in 1991 and 2001. Philip Carlo also wrote a book in 2006, entitled The Ice Man.
In one interview, Kuklinski claimed that he would never kill a child and "most likely wouldn't kill a woman". However, according to one of his daughters he once told her that he would have to kill her and her two siblings should he happen to beat her mother to death in a fit of rage. At the same time, his wife Barbara has stated that he never actually did hurt the children. However, she says that he frequently beat her up, breaking her nose several times.
He also confessed that he once wanted to use a crossbow to carry out a hit but not without "testing" it first. While driving his car, he asked a random man for directions, shot him in the forehead with the crossbow, and stated that the arrow "went half-way into his head."
In a 1992 interview, Kuklinski recalled what he considered was his most sadistic murder.
"It was a man and he was begging, and pleading, and praying, I guess. And he was, 'Please, God, no,' all over the place. So I told him he could have a half an hour to pray to God and if God could come down and change the circumstances, He'd have that time. But God never showed up and he never changed the circumstances and that was that. It wasn't too nice. That's one thing, I shouldn't have done that one. I shouldn't have done it that way."
Kuklinski died at age 70 at 1:20 a.m. on March 5, 2006. He was in a secure wing at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey at the time, although the timing of his death was labeled suspicious; Kuklinski was scheduled to testify that former Gambino crime family underboss Sammy Gravano had ordered him to murder New York Police Department Detective Peter Calabro. Kuklinski had admitted to murdering Calabro with a shotgun on the night of March 14, 1980. At the time Kuklinski was scheduled to testify, Gravano was already incarcerated for an unrelated charge, serving a 19-year prison sentence for running an ecstasy ring in Arizona. Kuklinski also stated to family members that he thought "they" were poisoning him. A few days after Kuklinski's death, prosecutors dropped all charges against Gravano, saying that without Kuklinski's testimony there was insufficient evidence to continue. At the request of Kuklinski's family, forensic pathologist Michael Baden examined the results of Kuklinski's autopsy to determine if there was evidence of poisoning. Baden concluded he died of natural causes.
As of September 2010, two films about Kuklinski were in the works.
- Mickey Rourke will play Kuklinski in a film based on Philip Carlo's biography The Ice Man, Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer. The film was expected to start shooting in spring 2010 in New York, New Jersey and Florida, though as of June 2012, the film's status has not changed from "in development."
- Michael Shannon will play Kuklinski in the film The Iceman based on Anthony Bruno's book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, scheduled for a 2013 release. The film will also star Winona Ryder as Kuklinski's wife (renamed Deborah), Ray Liotta as Roy DeMeo, Stephen Dorff as Richard's younger brother Joey, and Chris Evans as Robert "Mr. Softee" Prongay.
- Philip Carlo. "Richard Leonard Kuklinski (ibidem)". The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer. Macmillan. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe and James T. Costello: The Iceman Murder - One of a Series of Contract Murders. Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 6, November 1993, pp. 1404–1408. PDF file: 333.6 KB; retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Philip Carlo (2009). "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer". Google eBook. St. Martin's Press. pp. 16–20. ISBN 0312938845. Retrieved June 04, 2012.
- Martin, Douglas "Richard Kuklinski, 70, a Killer of Many People and Many Ways, Dies", The New York Times, March 9, 2006. Accessed February 28, 2011. "He married his wife, Barbara, in 1961. They lived a suburban, relatively affluent life of backyard barbecuing in Dumont, N.J."
- "The Iceman Confessions Of A Mafia Hitman". America Undercover. Home Box Office. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- "Jersey City Man Arrested In Death of 12-Year-Old Girl". New York Times. September 16, 1970. Retrieved 2011-03-16. "... of a 12-year-old girl who apparently was thrown from the roof of a building. Joseph Kuklinski was taken into custody at his home at 434 Central Avenue, ..."
- The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman, HBO, 2001. [specify]
- Gangsters Encyclopedia, by Michael Newman, Anova Books, 2007, page 69
- Philip Carlo, The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, page 45.
- Philip Carlo, The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, page 251.
- Hoff, Andrew. "The Iceman – An In-depth Look at Anti-social and Paranoid Personality Disorder". AndrewHoff.com. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer by Philip Carlo, Chapter 32, pages 189-190.
- Carlo, Philip The Ice Man, p. 299, St. Martin's Griffin, 2006, New York ISBN 978-0-312-37465-5 ISBN 0-312-37465-8
- "Iceman: suspect in 5 deaths arrested". Montreal Gazette (AP). December 18, 1986. "Officials said Kuklinski had large sums of money in Swiss bank accounts and a reservation on a flight to that country."
- Martin, Douglas (March 9, 2006). "Richard Kuklinski, 70, a Killer of Many People and Many Ways, Dies". The New York Times. "He killed neighborhood cats as a youth and said he committed his first murder at 14, after which, he said, he felt 'empowered'."
- Jacobs, Andrew (February 21, 2003). "Reality TV Confession Leads to Real-Life Conviction". The New York Times. "During the hearing, he said he did not know that his intended target was a police officer."
- Carlo, Philip The Ice Man. p. 257, St. Martin's Griffin, 2006
- Bruno, Anthony. The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer. New York: Delacorte, 1993
- Richard Kuklinski on YouTube
- Mickey Rourke to play real-life hitman in The Ice Man
- Zakarin, Jordan (26 March 2012). "'Iceman' Poster Stars Michael Shannon as a Menacing Killer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 June 2012.