We often think of a hit-man as a fictitious character out of a movie like Goodfellas or The Godfather, but the fact is, they are not just fictional characters or actors portraying them through roles, they are real and have been around for a long time. Mostly tied to Italian organized crime, the hit-man has a long history, and they are usually a notorious cast of characters.
10. Joe Gallo
Joe Gallo was an Italian hit-man that worked for the Profaci crime family in New York. Many of his associates called him “Crazy Joe” because he would kill for no reason and also, he would mimic well-known, but make pretend gangsters. He made a bad decision when he tried to form a conspiracy against his own boss, the head of the Profaci crime family itself Joseph Profaci. He was finally charged and convicted to 10 years in prison.
9. John Scalise
The Valentine’s Day Massacre was a famous murder plot where seven mob associates were brutally attacked by a group of hit-men. The gangsters dressed up as cops and committed the famous crime. John Scalise was a big part of this famous event. He was known for wearing a glass eye. He expanded his business into contract killing with the mob in the 1950s and at one point, he even worked for Al Capone. He served 14 years for his murders and was brutally attacked repeatedly in prison.
8. Joseph “The Animal” Barboza
Joseph Barboza was not someone you wanted to have around. People were so terrified of him because of his killing tendencies that he even earned the nickname, “The Animal.” After doing some prison time, upon release, he started an elaborate burglary ring and began connections with the Patriarca Crime Family as a contract for hire killer. It is believed he has killed over 26 people. He even once bit part of a man’s cheek off in the middle of a fight.
7. Frank Abbandando
Frank Abbandando was a part of Murder, Inc. He used a machete to kill one of his famous victims, George Rudnik. It was considered a horrific and brutal killing. He has killed at least 30 people. Abbandando started as a contract hit-man, working for Abe Reles, another affiliate of Murder, Inc. He was eventually caught and was given the death penalty and died in 1942.
6. Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss
Harry Strauss was a part of Murder, Inc. He enjoyed mentally torturing his victims before finishing them off. He murdered at least 35 people. He never carried a gun when he wasn’t working. Even though he was arrested 18 times before he was convicted, he was eventually sent to prison after killing Irving “Puggy” Feinstein, a known mobster whom he killed with an ice pick and a rope. It is said that Puggy took bites out of Strauss’s finger. Puggy’s response made Strauss so angry that he tortured Puggy with a slow death of strangulation, along with the ice pick and set fire to his body in a vacant lot.
5. Giuseppe Greco
Giuseppe Greco was a tough Italian gangster that worked as a hit-man mostly in the 1970s. He was part of a team of killers that were often dubbed “death squads.” He was finally caught by his 58th murder. Greco had no softness for his victims. He once killed a father and child and got rid of their bodies by dissolving them in acid. He eventually met his own demise when his former death squad colleagues murdered him in 1985.
4. Giovanni Brusca
Giovanni Brusca was a modern day Italian mafia hit-man. He was known to love eliciting pain from others and is known to have killed over 200 men in his career. He was a part of the mob from his youth. He was responsible for the murder of prosecutor, Giovanni Falcone in 1992. He escaped from his jail sentence by fleeing to the countryside where he was caught and put in jail.
3. Alexander Solonik
Russian Mob hit-man, Alexander Solonik, often referred to as “the superkiller” or “Sasha the Macedonian” was a lethal Russian contract killer who took hits out on high-ranking mob bosses in Russia. Alexander’s background was unique. He was ambidextrous, so he was able to shoot guns from either hand. He also had a Soviet Military background that included martial arts and special kinds of techniques with guns. His survival skills were impeccable. He escaped prison several times and was able to travel far before finally being caught. He eventually ended up in Greece, running a large crime ring and performing high priced hits worldwide. Supposedly, he was found dead in 1997, with his Russian girlfriend strangled to death outside of Athens. According to rumors, he faked his death and could still be alive somewhere deep in the crime underworld.
2. Abe “Kid Twist” Reles
Abel Reles started out his crime career in bootlegging, that was his transition into the world of organized crime. There was a secret group of contract hit-men in the 1930s called Murder, Inc. Reles was at the center of the group and highly utilized by New York crime families for contract killings. He used ice picks to kill people. He has been described as a true psychopath, due to his impulsive killings of innocent people, as well as murder contracts for hire. Reles admitted to being involved in dozens of murders and also to being a member of Murder, Inc., it is speculated that the Murder, Inc. group participated in over 1000 murders. Reles turned as a police informant, once he knew he was no longer able to cover up all the crimes he was linked to, but he was murdered the night before he testified by being thrown out of a hotel window.
1. Richard “Iceman” Kuklinski
Richard Kuklinski, also known as the “Ice Man,” earned this nickname for freezing his victims in order to confuse the time of death to investigators. On the outside, Kuklinksi looked like a normal businessman to his neighbors. He was married with three children and began killing as a teenager. It has been estimated that he’s killed between 100 to 250 men, but had a personal rule never to kill a woman or child. Kuklinski’s killing methods got the attention of the Gambino Family. The Gambinos put him to work, and he was a contract killer for many years. He died in prison of natural causes.