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The Iceman Interviews (Richard Kuklinski)

Alexandria Gurule

Southwestern Adventist University

April 5, 2019
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Richard Kuklinski is a convicted felon in prison for life for the murder of over 100

people. He has clearly expressed in The Iceman Interviews that he does not feel remorse for

these murders because he does not think about them. After claiming that he does not feel

remorse, he said that if he thought about these murders, they would start to bother him. To find

out why Kuklinski was able to feel no remorse for these murders, it is necessary to look at his

background from his childhood to adult life, and ultimately, to a convicted serial killer.

The childhood home of Richard Kuklinski was one full of both physical and mental abuse

of both Richard and his brother. In fact, his father beat his brother so badly that he died from

the injuries, but got away with it because Richard’s mother claimed that the boy fell down the

stairs and died because of it. Kuklinski was quoted saying that his mother was “cancer and

would destroy everyone.” The family was raised in a strict Catholic home and Richard was also

an altar boy in his church. Richard Kuklinski’s home life was filled with hatred and abuse, and

his life at school and in social settings was not any different. He was picked on and bullied from

a young age by his peers. At one point, he got sick of the bullying and turned to violence to end

it. However, the violence did not start with defending himself against his bullies. Kuklinski

claimed that as a child, he began killing cats which ultimately led to him switching from cats to

his bullies and anyone else who angered him.

If a child grows up in an environment of hatred and abuse, this is all the child knows for

normal relationships. For Kuklinski, the relationship between him and his parents was not a

loving or caring relationship. In the Iceman Interviews, Kuklinski even calls his mother “cancer

and would destroy everyone.” Instead of a stable home environment, Richard Kuklinski’s
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childhood was filled with mental, physical, and verbal abuse which in turn, molded him into the

serial killer he became.

Richard Kuklinski dropped out of school in the eighth grade and began his life of crime

which changed his role from the victim of abuse and bullying, to becoming a young man with a

violent temperament. At the age of 18, he committed his first murder of one of his bullies by

beating him with a cue stick. It should also be noted that physically beating people who played

pool with him was a norm for Kuklinski. He was easily angered and at times would beat people

for no reason. It is clear that his anger came from the severe abuse from his childhood from his

parents and would beat people who angered him like they did. His use of transference between

his peers and his parents allowed him to channel the rage he had for them onto innocent victims.

According to the textbook, the profile characteristics of one who assaults people are those

who themselves have been assaulted. If they have grown up in a violent household, they are

likely to abuse and assault themselves. Those who assault also tend to have a record of

violence which again fits the profile of Richard Kuklinski. His background of assault also

contributes to his major crimes of murder. Another characteristic of a murderer is a history of

violence against small animals, which Kuklinski had confessed he had done as a young

child. Richard Kuklinski’s characteristics fit many of the characteristics of those who assault and

murder from the textbook. One quote from the textbook mentions that “men are more concerned

about defending their ‘manhood’.” Which is another reason why Kuklinski killed people. As

previously mentioned, he killed his first victim with a cue stick because he made him angry
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while playing pool. In parts of his interview, Richard Kuklinski also states that he sometimes

killed people to protect himself from their testimony against him.

At the age of 26, Richard married Barbara and they had three children

together. Kuklinski was known as a family man who was in high standing with those around

him. He was very loving to his children and made sure that they were not treated the way he was

treated as a child. However, he and his wife argued frequently because of his short temper. It is

also reported that he abused her and that during one fight, he turned his back to her and told her

to stab him. According to the textbook, the abuser in marital abuse will downplay the extent of

the abuse to make it seem like it wasn’t as bad as it was. When interviewed during the Iceman

Interviews, Barbara claims that she knew that he was never loved as a child, but they never

spoke about the abuse from his parents. Richard was also very adamant about never mixing his

work with his family. His wife and children never asked about his job, even if he left in the

middle of the night for a job. During one Christmas Eve with his family, he left to go collect

money from a man, but ended up shooting the man because Kuklinski thought he did not have

the money. After the shooting, Kuklinski returned to his family to put gifts together for his

children.

As an adult, he continued to kill people with ease and the Mob picked up on this. He was

soon interviewed for a position as a hitman for the Mob family and was paid at least 5 figures for

each kill. When he auditioned for his job as a hitman, Roy DeMeo, leader of the Gambino Crime

Family told him to go out and kill a random man on the street without question, and Kuklinski
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did so without any feeling. This began his job as a hitman for the Gambino Crime Family where

he killed various people who owed money or knew too much about the Mob’s

business. Kuklinski also killed people who he thought would go to the police about Richard.

Richard Kuklinski was also a man driven by anger. The main source of his anger was his

father. When he was young, he was unable to protect himself against his father’s beatings. He

even mentions in his interview that if he could’ve, he would have killed his father and felt good

about it. Since he was unable to take out his rage on his father, Kuklinski killed loud

mouthed people who reminded him of his father. This was due to transference or placing

emotions from one situation onto another.

Kuklinski, like most serial killers, was street smart. He relied on instincts to complete

some of his tasks given by Roy. For example, Roy once asked Kuklinski to kill a man that they

would lure to a secluded location. Kuklinski then double parked on a snowy road so that they

man would have no choice but to drive right by him. Richard then hid behind his vehicle and

when the man passed, he shot him. This man ended up being a police officer named Peter

Calabro. Kuklinski was smart in the way he handled his killings. He thought about it thoroughly

and had methods of how he deposed of bodies. His methods of killing were usually by gun and

he would freeze the bodies to confuse time 0f death. This is where he got the nickname The

Iceman. Unfortunately for Richard Kuklinski, he made a mistake from one frozen body which

was found before it had completely thawed. This is when the coroner realized what Kuklinski

was doing with his victims.


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During his interview, Richard Kuklinski told the stories of his murders with ease. The

fact that he told these stories so easily shows that he had no remorse or feelings toward his

victims. As mentioned in the beginning of the interview, Kuklinski states that he has no feelings

about the murders because he doesn’t think about them much, but if he did think about them, he

would feel remorse. Richard Kuklinski was able to detach from his victims enough to see them

as objects or just a job instead of humans. That along with killing so many people show how he

began to feel nothing towards his victims.

It is important to mention that Richard Kuklinski’s brother, Joey, was also in the same

prison as Richard for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. When asked about it, Richard

mentions that he did not talk to his brother and clearly showed that he did not want to talk about

what his brother did. The Kuklinski brothers having the same outcome in life as convicted

murders shows that their childhood and upbringing had a lot to do with who they became as

adults. They both suffered from extreme abuse from their parents and did not have any love as

children.

During his professional life, Kuklinski would often times murder people who he thought

would testify against him. Toward the end of his career, he even killed one of his closest friends

because he believed he was going to testify. This is one murder he showed feelings for because

he claimed that he really liked the guy. His boss, Roy DeMeo was also killed for wanting to

testify, but not by Kuklinski. He did mention that he thought that DeMeo got what was coming

to him for speaking to the police. Kuklinski was extremely paranoid to the point that he killed all
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his friends who he though would testify against him. In fact, the only friend he did not kill was

the one who put him in prison.

Kuklinski’s professional life was also filled with him experimenting on his victims with

different weapons. He would often use new weapons on victims just to see if they worked, which

is how he found what he liked most. According to the textbook, serial killers are often difficult to

apprehend because “they have refined their technique over time.” For example, Kuklinski

mentioned that he tried a crossbow to kill a man just to see if he could do it. He also tried using a

chainsaw to cut a man up but found that it was too messy for him. As previously mentioned, he

found that if he froze his victims after he killed them, the coroner’s time of death would be

different than what it actually was. Kuklinski was a street smart man which was learned from

experience and trial and error.

During part three of the interviews with Richard Kuklinski, Dr. Park Dietz does a final

interview with him to help get a psychological perspective of Kuklinski. During this interview,

Dr. Dietz asks an important question. Why? Why did he decide to take this life of crime and

murder? Also, why did he kill the way he did and what did he get out of it? In order to answer

these questions, Dr. Dietz looked at Kuklinski’s past history including his childhood,

adolescence, and adulthood. He found that as a young child, Richard Kuklinski was already

showing psychopathic tendencies, such as torturing and killing small animals. Dr. Dietz also

uncovered that Kuklinski was disgusted after killing these animals, not because of what he had

done, but because killing them was not a challenge in his eyes.
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Dr. Dietz asked Kuklinski if it was killing him that gave him an adrenaline rush. In

response, Kuklinski answered that sex is what gave him a rush. Nothing about his victims gave

him any type of emotional release. The extreme violence that Kuklinski used in his everyday life

was something was conditioned in him since he was a child. As a child who received multiple

beatings from his father and mother, he was conditioned into this violence. He received no

mercy from his parents and in return showed no mercy to those he beat and killed.

Kuklinski had thought of himself as a solution to the problems he saw in the world. He

would often beat or kill people who he believed were annoying or who were causing a problem.

He told Dr. Dietz that one time, two men ran him off the road and Kuklinski stopped them and

shot them, killing both. He expressed to Dr. Dietz that he would never back down if he was

pushed.

Throughout the interview, Dr. Dietz worked to gain control of the interview from

Kuklinski by showing no reaction to anything that he would say to him. Kuklinski admitted that

he got angry at the fact that Dr. Dietz gave no reaction and made Kuklinski feel criticized which

is how his father would also make him feel. Dr. Dietz used transference to allow Richard

Kuklinski’s feelings toward his father to be transferred onto Dr. Dietz to be able to apply those

feelings to someone currently.

Dr. Dietz explained that Richard Kuklinski was a person who was antisocial with

paranoid personality disorder. A person who is antisocial is one who has no conscience, no

remorse, violent, and fearless. “An antisocial personality disorder a personality disorder marked
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by a general pattern of disregard for and violation of other people’s rights” (Comer, 2015).

Kuklinski clearly had to regard for human life and beat, tortured, and killed people with ease. He

violated others for his own gain of money, power and control. However, he was very paranoid of

everyone around him and trusted no one. “People with paranoid personality disorder deeply

distrust other people and are suspicious of their motives” (Comer, 2015). Comer also mentioned

that people who have paranoid personality disorder are always on guard for anyone out to get

them. As mentioned, Kuklinski often killed those he thought would testify against him, even if

they had no plans to. He also killed a man once because he believed that the man would not have

the money he owed Kuklinski. After he killed the man, Kuklinski found that he did indeed have

the money with him.

Dr. Dietz inferred that because Richard Kuklinski both antisocial personality disorder and

paranoid personality disorder, he was very success in his line of work. With the combination of

disregard for other humans as well as being cautious, he was able to live this type of way and

evade police capture for the majority of his life. When he was finally caught, it was due to an

undercover cop who gained Richard Kuklinski’s trust and eventually had enough evidence to

arrest him. In December of 1986, he was arrested and charged initially for six murders. Later

while in prison, he confessed to many more murders many of which cannot be confirmed.

A strong quote that from Richard Kuklinski from The Iceman Interviews that explains

who he is, is “I am the furthest thing from a nice guy. I am a person’s nightmare.” Richard

Kuklinski died on March 5, 2006 in prison serving two life sentences. He was often interviewed
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by many journalist, psychologists, and writers in order to understand how someone could kill

hundreds of people and claim to not be effected by it. It is clear that from his childhood, he did

not have any love in his life. He was abused physically and emotionally by his parents and

transferred his anger from that onto his victims and wife. With both antisocial and paranoid

personality disorders, he was the perfect candidate for a serial killer with no remorse.
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Works Cited

Bauer, P, (2019, March 1), Richard Kuklinski, Britannica.com, Retrieved from

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Kuklinksi

Comer, Richard, (2015), Abnormal Psychology, Princeton University, Worth Publishers, New

York, NY.

Kreugel, Paul, (2011, March 14), The Iceman Tapes – Conversations with a Killer (part 1, 2, 3),

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DAHM75MKfk