Childhood and Early Life
Richard Kuklinski was born in his family apartment in New Jersey on April 11 1935, to Stanley Kuklinski and Anna McNally, Polish and Irish immigrants.
Richard was frequently abused by his parents and his father repeatedly beat him. His mother also beat him with household objects such as broom handles.
Anna McNally raised her son in the Catholic Church where he became an altar boy because she believed in a religious upbringing along with stern discipline.
Richard had three siblings - an elder brother, a younger sister, and a brother. Florian, his elder brother died of head injuries suffered from abuse by his father. They lied to the police saying he had fallen down a flight of stairs.
His younger brother, Joseph was convicted for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl.
Continue Reading Below
Richard Kuklinski began killing cats as a child and committed his first murder at the age of 14.
Kuklinski ambushed Charley Lane, a teenager-gang leader who had bullied him for some time, and beat him to death in 1949.
Kuklinski was introduced to the Gambino crime family through his work with mafia gangster Roy DeMeo in his twenties.
He started out with robberies and other crimes for the family but soon his talent for killing was realized as he stood out because of his imposing physique.
Kuklinski was said to be DeMeo's favourite enforcer. He claimed that he was responsible for the murder of Roy DeMeo. However, evidence and testimony pointed to the murderers being DeMeo’s crew associates, Joseph Testa and Anthony Slater as well DeMeo's supervisor in the Gambino family, Anthony Gaggi.
Over the next thirty years, Richard Kuklinski killed several people either by gun, strangulation, knife, or poison.
He favoured cyanide since it killed quickly and was hard to detect in toxicology tests.
One of the other reasons for his nickname 'Iceman' was because he used industrial freezers to freeze the corpses of his victims.
After nearly 30 years in the mafia, Kuklinski started his own crime ring and devised new ways to gain profit by killing people.
Continue Reading Below
The case of Paul Hoffman was typical of his methodology. Kuklinski double-crossed illegal drug dealer Hoffman on the afternoon of April 29, 1982. Hoffman met Kuklinski at a warehouse where he gave Kuklinski the money, when Kuklinski claimed the deal to be a ruse. He shot Hoffman under the chin, the shot didn't kill him, so Kuklinski killed him by beating him to death.
The first major mistake by Kuklinski was made on December 27, 1982, when the decomposing body of Gary Smith was found in Room 31, under the bed at York Motel, North Bergen, New Jersey.
Kuklinski had killed Gary Smith by feeding him a cyanide laced hamburger in the room at York Motel. As Smith took a long time to die, Kuklinski strangulated him with a lamp cord.
Kuklinski’s fourth known murder was of Daniel Deppner. Daniel Deppner's body was found at a lonely wooded area near West Milford, New Jersey on May 14, 1983, while a turkey vulture was preying on it. It was spotted by a bicyclist riding down the road. The body was put in garbage bags before being dumped and was found just over three miles from where Kuklinski family often went riding.
The body of Louis Masgay was found near a town park on September 25, 1983 in Orangetown, New York with a bullet wound in the head. Kuklinski managed to hide the time of Louis’ death by storing his corpse in a freezer for two years but the body did not thaw completely before he dumped it.
All the five unsolved homicides were later linked to Kuklinski because he had been the last person to see them alive.
In 1985, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies joined the task force nicknamed 'Operation Iceman' to arrest and convict Richard Kuklinski.
In 1985, Detective Pat Kane and ATF Special Agent Dominick Polifrone worked with Phil Solimene, who posed as a fellow hitman to Kuklinski and stated to hire him for a hit. He recorded Kuklinski speaking in depth, about how he would go about the murder.
On December 17, 1986, Kuklinski met Polifrone to obtain the cyanide for the murder of a random detective working undercover.
Continue Reading Below
After obtaining the cyanide, Kuklinski took a walk where he tested the cyanide on a stray dog. He became suspicious when he realized that it wasn’t poison, and decided to go home instead of committing the murder. He was arrested two hours later at a road block.
Richard Kuklinski was charged with five murder, attempted murder, robbery, attempted robbery, and weapons violations.
Officials also found a large sum of money in his Swiss bank accounts and a reservation to fly to that country.
In March 1988, he was found guilty of two murders. However, he did not face death penalty as the deaths were not proven to be Kuklinski's conduct.
In all, he was convicted for five murders and sentenced to consecutive life sentences, making him not eligible for parole until age 110.
Kuklinski initially worked in a warehouse in New Jersey, before he started working as a contract killer. He met 18-year-old Barbara Pedrici there and they got married after she became pregnant.
Kuklinski and his wife had two daughters and a son.
Barbara described his behaviour as alternating between good and bad.
The good part had him as a hardworking man, providing for his family, an affectionate father and husband who enjoyed spending time with his family, while the bad him was given to violent fits of rage and physical abuse, where he beat his wife and emotionally abused his children.
After 17 years inprison, in October 2005, Kuklinski was diagnosed with a rare condition of inflammation of blood vessels due to which he was transferred to a secure wing at St Francis Medical Centre in Trenton, New Jersey.
Kuklinski died on March 5, 2006 at the age of 70.