"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."
Richard Leonard Kuklinski, a.k.a. "The Iceman", was a serial killer and hitman.
Kuklinski was born in a housing project in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1935. His father, Stanley Kuklinski, was an abusive alcoholic who beat everyone in the family. His mother, Anna, was also abusive, beating their children with broom sticks. He had two brothers, one older and one younger. The oldest, Florian, was beaten to death in 1940 by Stanley, who made the rest of the family cover it up as an accident and say he had fallen down the stairs. The younger, Joseph, was convicted of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl as an adult and died in 2003 after spending almost 30 years in prison. At the age of 10, Richard started torturing animals and would fantasize about killing his father. He was known to tie cats together by their tails, throw them over clothing lines and watch them tear each other apart. At the age of 14, he committed his first known murder, beating Charley Chase, the leader of a teenage gang, to death, throwing him off of a bridge and removing his teeth and fingertips to prevent identification. He then attacked the six other gang members, almost killing all of them. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade. In 1960, he met a woman named Barbara Pedrici. They later married and had three children, two daughters and a son, together. They weren't informed of his criminal activities until after he was caught, but were instead led to believe that he was a businessman.
Starting in the mid-1950s, after some years on the street, Kuklinski became affiliated with the DeCavalcante crime family in Newark and the Gambino crime family in New York City, carrying out hits for them as well as more "routine" jobs such as robberies and pirating pornography. He was known to be very brutal and prone to violence. Though he claimed to have done several murders on the instructions of Roy DeMeo, a member of the Gambinos, none of the Gambino members who later testified against the gang ever admitted to his involvment. Exactly how many people Kuklinski killed is unknown, although he claims to have killed over 200. On December 17, 1986, he was arrested in a sting operation after trying to buy cyanide from a federal agent, ATF Special Agent Dominick Polifrone. He was charged with murder, attempted murder, firearm violations, robbery and attempted robbery and was indicted for five murders to which he had been tied. After making a deal, he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and served them in the Trenton State Prison, where his brother was already serving his own life sentence. He spent the remainder of his life there and was interviewed on multiple occasions, twice for HBO documentaries. In 2003, he confessed to killing an NYPD detective, Peter Calabro, in 1980. On March 5, 2006, he passed away aged 70 in a secure wing of the St. Francis Medical Center. At the time, he was scheduled to testify that he had been hired for the Calabro murder by a Gambino family underboss, Sammy Gravano, so there were some suspicions that he may have been murdered, but an autopsy concluded that he died of natural causes. The charges against Gravano, who at the time was serving a long sentence on a drug trafficking charge, were ultimately dropped since there wasn't enough evidence against him without Kuklinski's testimony.
While Kuklinski is reputed to have killed his victims in a variety of ways, including shooting, bludgeoning, stabbing, dismemberment, using hand grenades, chainsaws, fire and even a bomb attached to a remote controlled toy car, he claimed that his favorite weapon was cyanide because it was difficult to detect during an autopsy and could easily be administered. He stated that he liked injecting it into the victims' hamburgers while they were in the bathroom and that he carried a nasal spray bottle filled with a cyanide solution and killed some victims by spraying it into their faces. He also claimed to have brutally tortured many victims before killing them and to have made some victims bleed non-fatally before tying them up and leaving them in rat-infested areas to be eaten alive. Additionally, he would freeze the bodies of some victims in an industrial-sized freezer to make it more difficult to establish the time of death, hence his nickname, "the Iceman". He also claimed to have disposed of some victims by putting them in cars to be crushed by compactors or by putting them in barrels and to have left the bodies of some seated on park benches.
- Unspecified date in 1949:
- Charley Chase (bludgeoned with a wooden dowel; removed his teeth and fingerprints post-mortem)
- The six unnamed gang members accompanying Chase (all assaulted with a metal pole)
- January 31: George Malliband, 42 (shot repeatedly)
- March 14: Peter Calabro (shot with a shotgun)
- July 1981: Louis Masgay, 50 (shot in the head)
- April 29: Paul Hoffman, 51 (shot, then fatally bludgeoned with a tire iron)
- December 27 (found): Gary Smith, 42 (was poisoned with cyanide, then fatally strangled with a cord by Daniel Deppner)
- May 14, 1983 (found): Daniel Deppner, 46
- Note: In addition to these seven victims, Kuklinski has also claimed to have killed over 200 people, including Jimmy Hoffa, in total. Whether or not this statement is credible currently remains unknown.
On Criminal MindsEdit
While Kuklinski hasn't been mentioned by name on Criminal Minds, hitman Vincent Perotta appears to have been partially based on him. Both came from abusive backgrounds, admitted that they didn't like the idea of killing women, and fantasized about killing their fathers (Vincent actually went ahead with it). Also, Perotta's way of leaving one of his victims to be eaten alive by rats is very similar to the way Kuklinski claimed to killed some of his victims.
- Wikipedia's article about Kuklinski
- About.com's article about Kuklinski
- Crimeshots.com about Kuklinski
- Documentary about Kuklinski
- Absolute Astronomy article about Joseph Kuklinski
- The Montreal Gazette article from 1986 about Kuklinski's victims on Google News
- Spokane Chronicle article about Kuklinski's victims on Google News
- New York Times article about Kuklinski
- IMDb's page about Kuklinski
- Authentic Society about Kuklinski
- Murderpedia's article about Kuklinski