Richard Leonard “The Iceman” Kuklinski (April 11, 1935 – March 5, 2006) was a convicted murderer and notorious contract killer. The six foot five inch (195 cm), 300 pound (135 kg) hitman worked for several Italian-American crime families, and claimed to have murdered over 250 men over a career that lasted 38 years from 1948 till 1986; he killed his first victim at age 13. He was the older brother of the convicted rapist and murderer Joseph Kuklinski. He spent the last years of his freedom living undetected in the suburban town of Dumont, New Jersey.
Kuklinski earned the nickname “Iceman” following his experiments with disguising the time of death of his victims by freezing their corpses in an industrial freezer. Kuklinski’s method was uncovered by the authorities when he failed to let one of his victims properly thaw before disposing of the body on a warm summer’s night, and the coroner found chunks of ice in the victim’s heart.
Kuklinski died at the age of 70 at 1:15 a.m. on March 5, 2006. He was in a secure wing at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, New Jersey at the time, although the timing of his death has been labeled suspicious; Kuklinski was scheduled to testify that former Gambino crime family underboss Sammy Gravano had ordered him to murder New York Police Department Detective Peter Calabro. Kuklinski told family members that he thought “they” were poisoning him. A few days after Kuklinski’s death, prosecutors dropped all charges against Gravano, saying that without Kuklinski’s testimony there was insufficient evidence to continue. At the request of Kuklinski’s family, forensic pathologist Michael Baden examined the results of Kuklinski’s autopsy to determine if there was evidence of poisoning.