Perhaps the most infamous contract killer in history, “Ice Man” Kuklinski is thought to have murdered over 200 men (never women, or children) personally during in his lifetime. He operated in New York and New Jersey from 1950-88 and worked as a hitman for the DeCavalcante crime family, as well as various other prominent crime families. Kuklinski committed his first murder at the age of 14, beating a bully to death with a thick piece of wood. In order to avoid the identification of the body, Kuklinski cut off the boy’s fingertips and removed his teeth before dumping the remains off a South Jersey bridge.
In his teenage years and early twenties, Kuklinski became a notorious serial killer in Manhattan, brutally murdering homeless people for the sheer thrill. Most of his victims were shot or stabbed, and then left to drop were they died. He also began pool hustling for income, whilst beating anyone who opposed him to within an inch of their lives. His reputation for brutality soon caught the attention of various mafia crime families, who sought to utilize his talent for violence by making him an enforcer in their ranks. He became an associate of the Gambino crime family, staging robberies and also pirating pornographic video tapes. One day, a respected made member of the Gambino family named Roy DeMeo took Kuklinski out in his car and they parked on a city street. DeMeo then selected a random target, a man walking his dog. He then ordered Kuklinski to kill him. Kuklinski swiftly got out, walked towards the man and shot him in the back of the head as he passed by. This was the beginning of Kuklinski’s career as a hitman.
Over the next 30 years Kuklinski worked successfully as a contract killer. His nickname of “Iceman” came from his method of freezing his victims to disguise the time of death from authorities. Kuklinski was also famous for his varying methods of execution, the most unusual being the use of a crossbow aimed at a victim’s forehead, though he more commonly utilized cyanide as a poison. When the authorities finally identified Kuklinski as a notorious hitman, they found that no evidence existed to get a murder conviction. As a result they had to rely on a sting operation; an undercover agent pretended to hire Kuklinski for a hit, and recorded Kuklinski talking in-depth about how he would carry it out.
Afterwards, he was soon arrested and charged whilst trying to obtain cyanide for a planned hit. He received five consecutive life sentences for murder after confessing to numerous hits, making him ineligible for parole until his 110th birthday. He died in prison of natural causes when he was 70-years-old.