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Poetic Justice for Richard Kuklinski
Richard Kuklinski claimed to have killed over two hundred people during his lifetime and there is no reason to doubt his word. Many say he was the meanest, cruelest and most blood thirsty serial killer in history.
Richard was born April 11, 1935 in Jersey City. Both parents beat him severely at the slightest provocation. In 1940, one beating killed his older brother, Florian. Although he went to a Catholic grammar school and worked as an altar boy in the church, it apparently had little effect on his future. The fact his father abandoned his family, probably to elude the law for killing his son, didn’t help matters either.
Kuklinski’s propensity for cruelness began early in life. He was known to be unbelievably cruel to animals, burning cats alive in an incinerator, throwing dogs off of rooftops or tying them to the bumpers of city busses. At the young age of 14, he murdered a bully who taunted him for being Polish, beating him to death with a steel clothing rod.
By the time he turned 16, Richard had earned a reputation as being a real hard case and not one to cross. It was said he always carried at least two derringers and a knife. The teen only had an 8th grade education but he managed to find work at a film lab. Although he probably didn’t know it, it was the beginning of the end. While employed at the lab Kuklinski began stealing porn films and sold those to shady characters with ties to the Gambino family…better known as the local Mafia. It was the only way he knew how to make enough money to support a family.
With Richard’s already well established reputation as a street tough, it was a short jump to working as an enforcer for the crime family and collecting monies owed. He did hit jobs for a gang at the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn. The basement at the Gemini became nothing more than a butcher shop where he hacked up human bodies and then disposed of them.
As time went on, Kuklinski became an expert in various methods of killing people. Some just plain grisly and other ways were things nightmares are made of. Sometimes he would dismember his hapless victims with a chainsaw while they were still alive. Another of his favorites was the use of cyanide.
Once the dastardly deeds had been done, all that remained was to dispose of the bodies. He did this in several ways. Some he put in automobiles and had the car crushed in a compactor. Others he just indiscriminately dumped into lakes or rivers or left them on the side of a road.
Kuklinski had become a comparatively rich man by 1970 from his chosen profession. He resided in an upper class neighborhood and masqueraded as a respectable “businessman.” However, his family or neighbors never had any idea how the head of the household made his living. For all appearances he was the perfect father and husband. Kuklinski never wanted his family to be subjected to the kind of life he had grown up in.
There was never any doubt he loved his family, possibly the only people in the wretched man’s life he ever cared about.
As an example, on a Christmas Eve, he shot a man while trying to make a collection. He returned home and nonchalantly watched a news broadcast about what he had just done while wrapping his kids Christmas presents.
By the 1980s, he had advanced to the position of a crime ring boss, but he still participated in the dirty work of killing. On one job, a crooked pharmacist wanted to make an illegal purchase of stolen medication. The pharmacist showed up at a prearranged meeting spot with the money. Richard calmly said "There is no merchandise" and shot him. However, the shot didn’t kill the man. He finished the job beating the man to death with a tire iron. Kuklinski stuffed the lifeless body into a steel drum and left it outside a hotel where it languished for several weeks before being discovered.
Kuklinski began sinking deeper and deeper into the underworld of crime, becoming involved with pornography drugs, gambling and contract murder. But, now it was on an international level where he was eventually picked up on the FBI’s radar. He was now under surveillance.
Over the years Richard’s ability to stay one step ahead of the law caused him to become complacent. His began getting careless, leaving evidence behind at crime scenes which the FBI enthusiastically collected to make a case.
The body of Gary Smith was discovered in December of 1982 stashed under a bed in a hotel room. He had been strangled and poisoned with cyanide. The body was found only after decomposition of the body and odor revealed its’ location.
In 1983, the partially thawed body of Louis Masgay was found in a park. Richard had frozen the body two years previously before dumping it thinking it would erase clues to as the time of death. Thereafter investigators called him “The Iceman.”
More bodies began piling up and the FBI’s case against Kuklinski began to solidify. Although the “MO’s” didn’t directly implicate Kuklinski in any of the murders, some of the victims had been known to have had business dealings with him.
The FBI had now been following Kuklinski for three years, but they still didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him. They decided to plant an undercover agent to gather more evidence. The plant posed as another hitman working in New York. During a meeting with Kuklinski the agent recorded a conversation between himself and Kuklinski. Kuklinski bragged about how he had done in some of his victims. However, something the agent said must have tipped the braggart off as it later became apparent he intended to kill the agent as well.
The FBI task force decided to beat Kuklinski to the punch and arrested Kuklinski at a road block. It took five officers to finally get the cuffs on him and into a car. He was initially charged with five murders but later confessed to many more. He was given two life sentences in prison…making him eligible for parole at the age of 111. However, even if that were a possibility he never lived to see it.
He died March 5, 2006, reportedly of natural causes. Some believe the timing of his death was too coincidental and he was murdered to keep him from testifying against the Gambino family. Talk about a case of poetic justice…