When a man is a product of his environment and the environment is filled with violence and hatred, the possibilities are horrifying. Richard kuklinski is a prime example of just that. His childhood was something no human, let alone a child should go through. His anger built up and his life eventually was overcome by it. He then progressed to a cold-blooded killer, starting small, and then ending with the mob until his capture. Richard Kuklinski was born on April 11, 1935, to poor Polish parents, Anna and Stanley Kuklinski, in the projects of New Jersey. (Montaldo) Richard had two siblings; Florian, who died of injuries caused by abuse from his father and Joseph, who was convicted of raping and murdering a twelve year old girl. But of course the most monstrous of the three siblings was Richard. It was the childhood that really set the stage for one of the most cold-blooded serial killers in history. Stanley was a very abusive alcoholic who beat all three of his children and his wife. Anna wasn’t any better with the abuse, often beating the boys with broom handles and other household items. Her beatings were moralized in her mind by her strict Catholic belief of keeping her children in line. In 1940, Stanley’s beatings resulted in the death of Kuklinski’s oldest brother Florian which the family then hid from the authorities by saying he had fallen down the stairs. (Montaldo) By the time Kuklinski reached age 10 he was already acting out, torturing and killing neighborhood animals and by age 14 he committed his first murder. All the rage built up from the beatings from both his family and his peers and he wasn’t just going to take it anymore. He took a steel rod from his closet and ambushed the leader of a local gang that bullied him. He unintentionally beat him to death and felt remorse for his crime for a little while, but then saw this as an opportunity to become powerful and take control of his own life. He then continued to nearly beat to death the remaining members of the gang. After this incident there was no going back. He liked feeling in control of his life and not being bossed around all the time. From then on, Richard Kuklinski was a force to be reckoned with.
By his twenties Kuklinski was going to kill anyone who offended him. He earned the reputation of a tough street hustler and was then noticed by a
member of Newark’s DeCavalcante crime family, who hired him in his first gang. 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 a 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. (“Richard Kuklinski”). Kuklinski now just liked the challenge of the hunt; the killing was just second nature. He didn’t feel any emotions towards his victims or the killing itself; to him it was just his job. It was the planning, stalking, and doing it all successfully that excited him. The greater the odds against him, the more he got out of it. Richard was bipolar and should have been taking medication to help his unstableness. What would have been best was to see a psychiatrist; but that would be admitting there was something wrong with him, and he’d never do that. We would later figure out in his interviews after his capture that he was a totally sane man, and all the more frightening because of that.
Kuklinski then became associated with the Gambino crime family through his relationship with Roy DeMeo, which started due to a debt Kuklinski owed to a DeMeo crew member. DeMeo was sent to “talk” to Kuklinski and beat him with a pistol. Although Kuklinski was carrying a pistol himself, he decided not to use it, earning him DeMeo’s respect. After paying back the money he owed, Kuklinski began carrying out varied tasks for DeMeo and the Gambino family. One day DeMeo took Richard out to his car and parked on a city street. DeMeo then selected a random target and 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. Over the next thirty years Kuklinski killed numerous people. The police force wasn’t expecting all these murders to be from one man because he used so many different methods of murder. These
include guns, knives, explosives, tire irons, fire, poison, asphyxiation, and even bare handed beatings. 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 an 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.” (Blanco). Kuklinski earned the nickname “Iceman” after he disguised the time of death of his victims by freezing them in an industrial freezer. “Later, he told author Philip Carlo that he got the idea from fellow hitman Robert Pronge, nicknamed “Mister Softee”, who drove a Mister Softee truck to appear inconspicuous. Pronge taught Kuklinski the different methods of using cyanide to kill his victims.” (Blanco). Kuklinski’s method was later discovered after he had not properly thawed out his victim, which had ice chunks in his heart. “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 x 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.” (Blanco). Kuklinski was very creative and cautious with his kills, which is why it took the authorities so long to catch him, but eventually they did.
Meanwhile, Kuklinski met and married Barbara Pedrici, and later 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. His family never knew his occupation and to outsiders, they seemed to have a perfect family life. But that family life was interrupted when the authorities finally
caught up with Kuklinski in 1986 (Blanco). 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. 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. (The Story of Richard). This interesting lifestyle raised eyebrows. People wondered how a man could do such horrible things with no feelings of remorse. That is why he was interviewed by numerous reporters, prosecutors, psychiatrists, criminologists, writers, and television producers. He was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder along with many others, which are usually results of childhood abuse and explain why he could do such horrible things.
This man had no disregard for human life and would kill anyone who rubbed him wrong. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but didn’t care, making him fearless and ruthless. His childhood created the monster and from then on, the monster became bigger and stronger, more fearless and creative, earning him a spot in the mob until the monster got to fearless and was caught. This monster terrorized human life for so long he claims to have killed over 200 people. He was so interesting they have made documentaries on him and
are coming out with a movie on him this summer. Kuklinski was so demented he is what a person would dream up as their worst nightmare.