Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski is one of the most prolific hitmen in America’s sordid mobster history. To look at him, you might guess a couple of different theories as to how he received his famous nickname. At 6’5” and 270 pounds, Kuklinski certainly made a statement when he entered a room. His intimidating physical stature was met only by his imposing facial features. Hie eyes carried a primitive and predatory sort of look… someone might compare that look in his eyes to that of a caveman in the Ice Ages. And a slang term for murder is “iced” as in to “ice someone” so it’s also likely that one might think he earned his nickname by “icing” so many people.
But Kuklinski actually got his nickname by freezing his victims’ bodies. He did this so that he could hide their time of death and confuse the good folks at the medical examiner’s office. You see, it’s much easier to establish an alibi and claim your innocence when investigators can’t pinpoint a time of death.
With a reputation like that, you can bet that throughout Kuklinski’s career of killing, he’s been known to make statements that would chill any decent person to the bone. Here are fifteen of the most chilling statements made by Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski after he was incarcerated, during interviews. Prepare to bundle up!
15. “You Wouldn’t Be Safe Anywhere If I Was Mad At You.”
In 2001, producer Gaby Monet and director Arthur Ginsberg came out with The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman. The gangster film/documentary consists of an hour and thirty minutes of chilling statements made by the low gravelly-voiced Iceman himself set to horror movie music along a monotone narrator guiding the way, which makes the whole experience all the more unsettling.
In this clip, The Iceman explains how he felt about his victims. Once he was mad at them, he would do anything in his power (and he seemed to have had a lot of the stuff) to murder them and we’re guessing it wasn’t in a humane fashion. One interesting thing to note is that he says “mad at them/mad at you” in the clip, meaning that he has some feelings, although negative ones, about his victims. Does this make The Iceman more scary or less, that he was capable of human emotions and took them to such a degree or would it have been better if he were a numb killing robot?
14. On Killing: “I Don’t Have A Feeling One Way Or The Other.”
The Iceman says that he’s killed approximately a hundred people though in other accounts, it’s been said he murdered two hundred and fifty people between 1948 and 1986. When asked during an interview, “How do you feel about killing?” he answered with, “I don’t. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t have a feeling one way or the other.” Perhaps he is a true sociopath, which is believed to be the answer by many. He truly shows no emotion while saying this in the interview. But could it also be that he did have feelings and put on a bravado once he was locked up? After all, he did have a wife and a family. Surely, he must have been able to lend some genuine feelings to them over the years. Maybe once he was in prison without a hair’s chance of getting out, he felt that he needed to keep up the famous “Iceman” persona in order to preserve his legacy.
13. “If You Hurt Somebody, They’ll Leave You Alone.”
When he was just a young teen, Kuklinski’s cruel abusive father left the family. While this might seem like a good thing in many ways, it was around the same time that he started receiving much unwanted attention from the local bullies of street gangs. They would pick on young Richard (who happened to be a very skinny kid) relentlessly and it wasn’t until he was sixteen that he realized he could do something that might change how the bullies felt about picking on him.
“When I was a young man, I found out that if you hurt somebody, they’ll leave you alone,” he said. “Good guys do finish last. When I tried to leave everybody alone and just do my own thing, everybody just wanted to hurt me.”
12. His Response To His Brother’s Crimes: “We Come From The Same Father.”
Kuklinski, shown posed next to a car as a young man with his wife, did not have an easy childhood, as you may have already guessed. No, far from it. His father, Stanley, and mother, Anna, both strongly believed in the old abusive adage to “spoil the rod and spare the child.” Anna was known the beat all of the children with household objects such as broom handles until they broke.
However, Stanley made her look like a saint. He regularly whipped and beat his children and once beat The Iceman’s brother, Florian, so badly that he actually killed him. Stanley and Anna lied and covered up the crime, saying that Florian had accidentally fallen down the stairs. Growing up as a victim as well as a witness to so much violence would have left its mark and it seemed that The Iceman’s younger brother, Joseph, was influenced in some horrific way because he was found guilty of the rape and murder of a twelve-year-old girl. The Iceman’s comment to this was, “We come from the same father.” If people who say The Iceman is evil are correct, we guess we know who the Devil was.
11. “I Carried Three Guns And A Knife.”
In an interview, the subject of The Iceman’s preferred weapon of choice comes up and the interviewer asks, “Richard, when you were on the streets, what kind of weapons did you use?”
“When I was out on the street to do something,” The Iceman answered, “I carried three guns… and a knife…. and it all depends on how it came about.” This statement is terrifying because it shows that The Iceman was packing heat, packed to the gills and ready for just about anything. Can we say overkill? I guess you can say that he was good at his job and prepared for the worst as well as a little overtime work but to know that there was someone walking around on public streets carrying three guns and a knife is unsettling to say the least. And The Iceman killed lots of people so he was on the streets often with massive weaponry hiding just under his clothing.
10. “He Looked Through The Peephole… And He Never Saw What Hit Him.”
On speaking about Kuklinski’s job as a mob enforcer collecting payments or taking non-paying “customers” out, the Iceman recalled one man with a hefty amount of debt who thought that he could hide behind a door.
“It was a nice door,” Kuklinski said. “Expensive door. Anyway, most people don’t realize that when you come to answer a door, if there’s light in the background, the person on the outside can look through the peephole and see the guy coming to the door. So he came to the door and asked who it was and uh, he looked through the peephole. And he never saw what hit him.”
Apparently, the mafia families that Kuklinski worked for loved him for many reasons. His intimidation factor was high and as Kuklinski said himself, “Most people paid.” He seemed to have no qualms about getting down to um, business. And he seemed perfectly fit for the part of the natural born enforcer.
9. “It’s Better To Give Than To Receive.” … Beatings
This was one of The Iceman’s early realizations. As he recalls for an interviewer how the kids picked on him when he was younger, he said, “Until one day, I just decided I’ve had enough of this picking and I went upstairs and I took a bar which the clothes used to hang on in the closet. And I went back downstairs and there were like six young men, still figuring they were going to mess with my head. And uh, we went to war. To their surprise, I was no longer taking the beating. I was giving it. And that’s when I learned it was better to give than to receive.”
When he was eighteen, the abused kid had become the abuser, an enforcer. The tables had turned. His reputation as a person not to be messed with quickly spread around his neighborhood. Shortly after he turned eighteen, Kuklinski committed his first murder. He savagely beat a man with a cue stick in a pool hall “a few too many times.” He said that he was upset and saddened by the man’s murder as he hadn’t really meant to kill him. But soon the sadness gave way to a rush that meant control, one that he would soon find again.
8. Shot A Victim’s Head Clean Off At A Stoplight… With A Shotgun
“You used a shotgun… at a stoplight or something like that?” the interviewer prompts Kuklinski.
“At a red light,” Kuklinksi confirms. “We were following this fella. Pulled up at a red light. Came alongside him. And shot the shotgun and took his head off. He never saw the green light.”
Kuklinski goes on to say that the results of the shotgun blast really surprised him. Of course, he was expecting the man, his target, to die once he shot him but he didn’t think that the sawed-off shotgun would take his head off right there at the intersection.
“It was something I didn’t expect,” he says with the faintest hint of a smirk as if he is truly feeling the memory of the moment that he felt surprised. In the interview, he speaks and acts in a matter-of-fact manner as if he’s recalling a slightly amusing anecdote.
7. “Nothing Haunts Me.”
When asked in an interview, “Are there any murders that you committed that haunt you?” After a few beats, Kuklinski answered calmly with, “Nothing haunts me. No murders haunt me. Nothing. I don’t think about. That’s why it’s hard for me to tell you.” In the next breath, he said that maybe it’s true that we all have choices but back then, he didn’t feel like he had a choice but to kill. But if given the chance, he would have liked to have lived a different life. He would have enjoyed having a different outlook on life. But as we all know, it’s not possible to turn back time. Kuklinski agreed and ended the topic of conversation with, “But I can’t change yesterday.”
Throughout his interviews, Kuklinski shows glimpses of a person with a conscience, a person who cares and wanted more out of life but was unable find another way to deal with such an abusive and torturous childhood.
6. “I Told Him He Could Have A Half Hour… But God Never Showed Up.”
During his interviews, the Iceman appears talkative and speaks open and freely about certain subjects when prompted. Only when he speaks of his family (his wife Barbara and their three children) does he become emotional. But there is one other subject that he almost shies away from. He tells the interviewer that there was a certain incident he recalled but he didn’t think he should mention it because it might offend a lot of people. He almost wasn’t going to say anything about it but after encouragement from the interviewer, Kuklinski says, “There was a man who was begging and pleading and praying, I guess. And uh, he was ‘Please, God,’ all over the place. So I told him he could have a half hour to pray to God and if God could come down and change his circumstances, he’d have that time. But God never showed up and he never changed the circumstances. And that was that. It wasn’t too nice. That’s one thing I shouldn’t have done that one. I shouldn’t have done it that way.” During the interview, he truly appears remorseful for what he put his victim through.
5. “I Was Even An Altar Boy.”
Kuklinski said that the family was Catholic, he and his siblings all attended Catholic grammar school and were raised with Catholic beliefs and values.
“I was even an altar boy,” he said. “But during the course of my life, I don’t really believe it but that’s just the way it happened. Didn’t mean it to happen that way but that’s just the way it happened.”
As mentioned before, he would have preferred to have his life take a different course. It is really a shame that it was standard to “look the other way” when it came to abuse when Kuklinski was growing up. No one wanted to get involved because they didn’t feel it was their place or any of their business. But maybe if someone had intervened, Kuklinski could have gotten out of that abusive household, into therapy and had a chance at a normal life. Had he, who knows how many lives would have been spared…
4. On Where To Put A Dead Body: “You Could Put It On A Park Bench.”
“You could bury it, you could put it in a big drum, you could put it in the trunk of a car and have it crushed. Leave it in town. Put it on a park bench. I mean, you could put it anywhere you want.”
These are The Iceman’s chilling statements about what to do with a dead body after he had completed a murder. Like listing agenda items for a meeting, he goes through the various places that he used to dispose of dead bodies. His choice phrasing of “it” (used seven times!) shows how little he valued life. His decision to leave his deceased victims sitting on park benches takes things to a new level. Not only did he take a life and deeply affected the lives of those who loved that victim but he was potentially traumatizing anyone, including children, who might come into contact with the deceased on a park bench.
3. “Everybody Just Looks Around… Thinks You’re Drunk…”
If you’re even a little bit paranoid, this one may get to you. In an interview, The Iceman admits to being somewhat of a “cyanide expert.” At one point, it was his go-to weapon of choice. He preferred to carry around cyanide in liquid form, take it to a bar where his target was, bump into them by accident or while acting drunk and spill the “drink” he was carrying which contained the liquid cyanide. He said that suspicion wouldn’t arise from people in the bar. “Everybody just looks around, thinks you’re drunk or that you just had an accident or something. Meanwhile, it’s soaking into their clothes, into their pores and to their system. And eventually, they’ll die.”
Once he said that he put a “little boost” into a man’s plate of food while they were eating at a restaurant. Soon after the man was rushed to the hospital where he died. The fact that he calls cyanide a “little boost” is chilling enough but the fact that he was in a packed public place, carrying a killer cocktail that could have accidentally splashed onto anyone standing near the target is what makes our hair stand on end.
2. “It Wasn’t A Homicide.”
That’s what Kuklinski said of one of his victims. Of course, it was homicide and he fully admits to killing the man but what he was referring to was the manner of death written on his victim’s death certificate. During his cyanide days, he once sneakily added cyanide to a man’s food while the unsuspecting victim was in the bathroom. He found out that the man was later buried after his sudden death. Of that kill, he said, “I’m not exactly sure what they attributed his death to but… it wasn’t a homicide.”
One of Kuklinski’s specialties was throwing off the manner and time of his victim’s deaths. We know that he earned his gruesome nickname from freezing some of his victims to mask the time of death but he especially loved cyanide because it wasn’t easy for medical examiners to judge the manner of death unless they would have known to test for it.
1. “What Is It To Dispose Of Something? You Throw It Away.”
One law enforcement official said that The Iceman would go so far as to plan in his crimes how to deceive law enforcement for a particular crime. He’s been called many things but dumb isn’t one of them. The official said that he would sometimes cut up the victim’s body, wrap the pieces in many layers of plastic garbage bags and deposit the body many miles away from the scene of the murder.
On this topic, The Iceman said, “What is it to dispose of something? You throw it away.” It doesn’t sound that chilling until you realize that he’s talking about a human body, whose life he had recently taken. “You throw it anywhere,” he said. “It all depends if you don’t want it found or if you want it found. If you want it found, it doesn’t matter. You just leave it there.” If calling living beings “something” and “it” isn’t chilling enough, it’s the fact that The Iceman treated the bodies like trash and felt no remorse about doing so.