''I Cut His Tongue Out & Shoved It Up His A**, It Was Just Business'' | The Chilling & Gruesome Crimes of The Iceman, Richard Kuklinksi

(Richard Kuklinski. Picture credit: mirror)

 Richard Kuklinski is a name that few could ever forget, especially his nickname 'The Iceman'. He was as cold as ice in every sense of the word and although he was responsible for many deaths, he is not classed as a serial killer by the powers that be. Richard was a contract killer for the mob but he didn't just kill guys who didn't pay their debts, he killed guys who maybe looked at him the wrong way or, as he would put it ''made him feel bad''. It didn't take much to make Richard Kuklinski feel bad, he was a ticking time bomb who could be sitting having a calm chat with you one minute but then fly of the handle the next and shoot you. 

I've written about many serial killers and having spent a lot of time reading books about Richard and watching his prison interviews, it's clear to see that he has that cold, dead lack of remorse for his victims as many serial killers do but that he also did show emotion when it came to his family. Richard's family meant the world to him, his 'job' meant that he could provide for them and give them the better start in life that he never had. Richard isn't found on the Serial Killer list because he's classed as 'Killing for profit' with connections to the mob but there is still something so evil and sinister about how he was able to carry out his crimes without a shred of remorse and later talk about it like it was nothing. 

The things that he had done would sicken even the most hardcore of people. He wouldn't just carry out a contract killing with a simple bullet in the back of the head as is usually the case, no, Richard was very sadistic in his killings, he'd also take requests from the people who hired him. In one incidence he murdered a man then cut out his tongue and placed it in the man's anus. His methods of killing would involve shooting, strangling, beating or poisoning. He'd also dispose of the bodies in different ways, some were dismembered, some were crushed, some were left on a park bench for a member of the pubic or police to find and on one occasion that we know of (although this is assumed to have happened before), Richard kept a man's deceased body in a huge refrigerator for two years, this earned him the nickname 'The Iceman'. 

But who was Richard? How did all of this begin? Well, I've started this post a little differently with this lengthy introduction but Richard is quite infamous with many books, documentaries, interviews and so forth online and in libraries about him, there's even a movie based on him. I just wanted to talk about him briefly in this post as I have never covered a mob related crime before, especially a hit man story.

It will come as no surprise to you that Richard had a difficult and very disturbing childhood. He was born on the 11th of April 1935 into quite a cold and violent household in Jersey City, New Jersey (USA). He was the second of four children and the family struggled with poverty. His parents both had jobs but had very little money. He described his difficult childhood in an interview, he claimed that his mother was 'cancer' and would physically assault him for no reason. His father was also very violent to him and his siblings. Richard was quite a shy, timid child who struggled because of his home life. He was very confused because he'd be beaten by his parents for no reason at all, he lived his early childhood walking on eggshells. 

Because of his timid nature he became the target for a group of local bullies called 'The Project boys'. Everyone in the neighbourhood was living in hard times but this didn't create a sense of community as it should, so there was a lot of violence and crime. Richard struggled to fit in and the bullies would harass and beat him every chance they could get. Richard didn't have the strength to fight back and he felt very weak because of this. He didn't have the confidence and strength to stand up to his parents at home and he didn't have the strength to fight of the bullies, until one day, Richard had, had enough. 

He took a clothes pole from the wardrobe and went outside to where the bullies were hanging out. Without warning he proceeded to attack the gang of boys with the clothes pole. Nobody was expecting it and Richard had really shocked and frightened everyone, it did the trick though because they gang stopped bothering him. Instead of leaving things at that and being satisfied that he'd stood up to the bullies and made his point, Richard was hungry for blood. 

He spotted one of the gang members hanging about on his own one night and decided to beat the boy. The boy would not stop shouting and before he knew it, he had beaten him so badly that the boy was (in his mind) unconscious. Richard felt pleased with himself as he walked away with the clothes pole and felt that everyone would see what he had done and nobody would be able to dare mess with him in the future. 

Richard found out the next day that the boy he had beaten, had died. He was in shock and he later claimed that he didn't want that to happen, he claimed he just wanted to teach him a lesson and make a point to the others. He stood at his bedroom window and could see the police were everywhere and at first he was horrified with what he had done and nervous that people would put two and two together and come for him. He skipped school for a week because he couldn't face people. As the days went on, Richard realised that the cops were not going to come looking for him, the cops had nothing. It was at this point where he started to feel powerful, like he'd managed to do something that nobody else could. He felt smug and soon went from feeling a bit regretful at what he had done, to what he described as 'a buzz'. 

Richard had murdered someone for the very first time and nobody knew it was him. He had this secret that only he knew and he ended someone's life, to him, that made him feel powerful and gave him a surge of confidence. 

This murder was not a one-off and this was the start of a deadly path that Richard was to walk down. Things at home were horrendous, his father went too far with the beatings one night and had actually killed Richard's brother. Even sickeningly. his mother covered up what his father had done and told investigators that the boy had simply fallen down the stairs. Richard was horrified and the police carried on about their business, case closed. There was no proper justice for his brother. His father soon walked out on the family and it wasn't long before Richard had left too. 

He thought of himself as a bit of a businessman and would buy and sell copied pornographic videos as well as other items. In time he would become connected to the mob and soon he was making a lot of money dealing with them. He claimed that he had no choice and could not get a normal 9-5 job because of lack of proper education.

The only thing steady and pure in Richard's life was his partner, Barbara, he felt that he could really be himself around her. She knew all of his weaknesses and didn't try to mock him or exploit him. As close as he and Barbara were, even she wasn't safe from his temper. 

(Barbara & Richard Kuklinksi. Picture credit: smh)

On one occasion where Barbara had been worried sick about her father who was in hospital, Richard laughed about the situation and asked if her father was dead. He made a disturbing comment which caused Barbara to snap back at him. Richard, under no circumstances put up with anyone else talking to him in a certain way but he certainly wasn't going to have Barbara speak to him like that either. 

Barbara knew she was in trouble and ran outside in her robe, freezing cold. He chased after her in his car like a madman and tried to run her over. Barbara managed to get to spot where she was safe but could still see him. Richard had gone back to their house and sat outside in the car banging his head against things and hitting himself, Barbara watched on in utter disbelief. As cold as she was, she stood there until Richard tired himself out and slowly slumped back into the house before she attempted to go home. Luckily he had calmed down and gave her one of his frightening warnings. Some people reading this would think ''why didn't he leave him?''. Well for Barbara, Richard had been the perfect man when they met, he bought her roses, chocolates, held doors open for her and there was never an issue in the beginning. He bought her expensive designer clothing and treated her to the best restaurants so it was clear that Barbara enjoyed that lifestyle. 

Some eyebrows were raised but Barbara claimed to have no idea of what her husband did for a living. She said that she had never challenged him and it was understood that she was not to ask him any questions.  The couple had children together and lived in a beautiful big house. Richard became obsessed with the idea of moving to the same expensive neighbourhood that a former American president was living in. Richard's view was that he had all of this money, had the best of everything, gave his family the best of everything and now here he was, in the possibility of having a former president as a neighbour. To Richard, this proved to himself that he was not going to turn out like his parents, that he was not still that poor, bullied kid from a bad neighbourhood. His kids were not going to know what his childhood experience was like, he wanted them to have the finest things and education that money could buy. To Richard, money was status and he would do anything to get it. 

(Richard Kuklinksi with his daughters. Picture credit: Daily Record)

Richard kept his double life private, his family would be safe at home and he would travel around, meeting shady figures, making money deals and killing for his mob customers. After he did these unspeakable things and dumped bodies that he took time to dismember, he would return to his family without a care in the world. Richard never cared about any of his victims and wasn't sorry for what he had done. The only thing he felt sorry for was hurting his family. 

He was so cold and collected that he was able to shoot someone at point blank range on a Christmas Eve night and then calmly leave the body in the victim's car and return to his house to be with his wife and children as they opened presents and sang Christmas songs. Richard recalled seeing the news reports that night and found it amusing that the reporters had called the incident a mob killing and that they had no leads. When asked later on if he felt any remorse about murdering this man on Christmas Eve, all he could say was that he was more concerned with helping his kids put their toys together. Whenever he was asked about what he had done or why he had done it, he'd always respond with ''It was just business''. 

Richard managed to carve out a life for himself and his family and had managed to get away with things for years. The police were soon on his tail though when they began to notice that many of Richard's acquaintances were suddenly turning up dead somewhere or that people who had been due to meet him for a business meeting, were suddenly vanishing into thin air. Richard had a habit of getting rid of people and even he didn't know for sure how many guys he had killed, it could possibly be over 100.

After leaving a trail of bodies behind him in various circumstances, an undercover cop befriended him in an attempt to get information. The cop wore wires at the meetings and as the man's colleagues listened on as Richard described in detail how he loved to kill people using the poison, Cyanide, they realised that the cop would be next on Richard's hit list. It was a bad sign if Richard Kuklinski opened up to you about his crimes, it meant that your days, possibly moments, were numbered. Whatever the case, Richard got sloppy and managed to fall into the trap that the cops had set up for him. As intelligent as he was in the ways of crime, Richard had been fooled by the undercover cop and soon found the handcuffs on him. 

He was arrested on the 17th of December 1986 and was as cool as a cucumber with no extreme reaction. He later said that he responded in this manner because his wife was present. If his wife had not been there, he would have had a shoot-out with the cops. 

(Richard Kuklinski. Picture credit: vintag)

Richard was sentenced to 60 years in prison and later had an additional two life sentences added on, he was never going to see the light of day outside of the prison walls again. In a bizarre incidence, the infamous murderer, John List (I wrote about his case here!!) had gotten word that Richard was on his wing and set about trying to befriend him. Richard was having none of it, despite killing people for money and greed, Richard was on his high horse about John List and the fact that John had murdered his family. Richard felt that his victims deserved what they had gotten, that the most of them were bad guys but John's victims were is own family and to Richard, killing your own family was something that could never be forgiven. 

Richard, despite his unloving and violent home life as a child, had managed to build his own family with his wife and quite shockingly, he was a great father (which is quite a bizarre thing to say) and had a very strong bond with his children. It's hard to believe that the same man who put dead bodies in freezers and dismembered people, was also the same guy who took his wife to feed the ducks at the local park and would request romantic songs to be played when they had dinner at their favourite restaurant. He was so much like a mobster, he wasn't Italian but his belief about the importance of protecting the family at all costs and with his life of crime, treating it all as just 'business', it screams of movies we have all seen in the past like Goodfellas and The Godfather. 

He remained private about his family in his years in incarceration but it is clear that he was in touch with them. His wife never divorced him but she did sell the house and moved away. His children grew up and had families of their own. The only time that Richard ever showed any emotion was when he spoke about his family. He didn't care about his victims or the families of his victims. 

In an interview, which can be found online, Richard sits chewing gum, acting carefree and casual as he talks about his crimes in that slow, distinctive tone of his which is pretty much unmistakable. He tells the story of a man he had murdered. He explains in a cold, unfeeling manner that the man begged and pleaded for his life, that the man prayed to God for help. Richard found that amusing (especially as his parents were very religious and he had a stint himself as an alter boy) and told the man that he would give him 30 minutes to ask God to come down and change the situation. When God didn't show up, he murdered the man. There's a brief moment where it looks like Richard is having a moment of regret, a spark of remorse in his eyes but it's soon gone and he says ''I shouldn't have done it.....I shouldn't have done it in that way.''

As years went by with Richard in prison, he was quite open to talk to various investigators and criminal profilers as well as writers. As I mentioned before, there is quite a number of articles, books and documentaries on him. I think the most informative of them all is his prison interview because obviously that's straight from the horse's mouth (I will include the interview along with other useful links at the end of this post). His final years in prison were plagued with illness and paranoia. He was convinced that the mob were trying to poison him behind bars. Richard was called to give evidence against a former associate and he told his family that he was potentially being poisoned. Things took an even bizarre turn when Richard suddenly passed away on the 5th of March 2006 which was attributed to his health issues (Kawasaki disease) but his family who had taken on board his concerns that the mob were trying to kill him, requested a second opinion after an autopsy had been performed. It was confirmed that Richard Kuklinski had died at the age of 70 from natural causes. 

Normally towards the end of a post I take a moment to think about the victims of terrible crimes that I have written about but in this situation, it's a bit of a conundrum because Richard, who was a murderer, a thief, an abuser and a monster, was killing other people who were murderers, thieves, abusers and monsters. So instead I think about his children and the children of the people that he killed. One can only hope that these children didn't go on to repeat the sins of their fathers. 

Richard said that he had learned from a young age that if you hurt people, they leave you alone. One wonders what would have happened had Richard not had the childhood he was forced to endure. He didn't really have a chance to begin with in those circumstances but that doesn't excuse what he did and what he became. He proved that he could be a family man and make a real go of things but in his mind, in order to have the life that he wanted, the fancy lifestyle and the better schools for his children, he couldn't resist the money and power that his crimes gave him. 

And his family? the fact that they continued to have a relationship with him after everything was out in the open. I have to say that, I can sort-of understand because he was a different person with them and because of who his victims were. I don't mean that to sound in a disrespectful manner but he was killing bad guys who were involved in bad things, if he'd been killing innocent people, women, elderly ladies, children etc then I think it would have been different, his family would have disowned him possibly? Richard Kuklinski was two people and was able to lead a double life for years.

He said he wanted to give his family and children the life that he never had as a child and to begin with, when everything was hidden, his family had the good life and never wanted for anything but that soon came crashing down. They are left with a legacy of what he has done and I know that troubled him. 

Further Reading & Sources:

The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer | Book by Philip Carlo

The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With A Killer: Richard Kuklinski | Interview (Documentary)

The Iceman & The Psychiatrist | Interview (Documentary)

Richard Kuklinksi | Crime Museum

Richard Kuklinski | Wikipedia

The Iceman | Movie: Wikipedia

I thank you as always for checking out my latest post and I will hopefully see you again in my next case as well as on social media

Take care x 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jo !

    I own a movie on DVD about Richard Kuklinski and I read about him. It was incredible to read your work about him.

    I always learn so much more when I read your work. He was indeed very sadistic and I discovered a lot about his background. I was in shock to read that he had killed a young boy when he was younger. Speaking of being in shock, learning that his father killed Richard’s brother and her mother covered up the murder was also quite disturbing.

    It’s so difficult to understand how an individual can be like him, living a double life like he did and also be able to sleep at night. He was certainly cold and calculated and a very secretive man with his family. I agree with you, he was two different person.

    I totally agree with you Jo, when I read your case about The Iceman, I thought about movies like Goodfellas and The Godfather. He was protective of his family but also capable of being so cold and cruel.

    Masterful work Jo !!! Thank you so much for being so amazing.