The mafia has a long and storied history in many different countries around the world. All sorts of criminals are part of the mafia’s many criminal enterprises. The most notorious people in their employ are the hitmen. These are killers, working for the mafia to dispose of those their bosses feel are a threat or simply trouble. Among hitmen, the notorious Iceman stands out as the most prolific.

Richard ‘Iceman’ Kuklinski

Richard Kuklinski was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1935. He was born to immigrant parents, his father from Poland and mother from Ireland. Kuklinski’s father was an alcoholic and beat his son repeatedly, introducing him to a violent life from a young age.

Barbara Kuklinski/Mainstream Publishing

As a boy, Kulinski would torture neighborhood cats and dogs. As he grew older, Kulinski only grew more violent. He stabbed Barbara Pedrici, his second wife, in the back and threatened to kill her if she left him. Barbara would later talk about there being two versions of Richard, affectionate and fatherly “good Richie” and violently temperamental “bad Richie.”

Mafia career

Richard Kuklinski had caught the attention of and killed for the  DeCavalcante mafia family by 1950. Later, he would become an associate (but not direct member) of the Gambino crime family, committing many different crimes at their behest.

The Vintage News

Kuklinski became the favorite enforcer of Roy DeMeo, a soldier in the Gambino family, after DeMeo ordered Kuklinski to murder a random man on the street and he did so without hesitation. Kuklinski killed other people, both at the orders of DeMeo and for his own pleasure, and sometimes experimented with freezing the bodies to hide the time of death, earning himself the name “Iceman.”

Serial killer or mafia enforcer

Most mafia enforcers only kill because they are ordered to. Kuklinski, however, actually enjoyed killing and had victims that he wasn’t ordered to kill, but that he simply wanted to.

The Vintage News

This is part of why he became so notorious as a hitman and why he has a much larger number of bodies attributed to him than others. At the time of his arrest, he claimed to have killed over 200 people.