Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski (April 11, 1935 – March 5, 2006) was a Polish-American criminal, convicted murderer and alleged Mafia hitman. He was nicknamed "the Iceman" after he was found to have frozen one of his victims in an effort to disguise the time of death.
In 1988, Kuklinski was convicted of killing two members of his burglary gang, and some other small-time crooks he was associated with. While in prison, he gave several interviews which were televised by HBO. During these interviews, Kuklinski claimed to have murdered hundreds of people (the numbers he gave ranged from 100 to over 300). He also claimed to have worked as a Mafia contract killer. Most of Kuklinski's claims have never been substantiated.
Philip Carlo's lurid and heavily-sensationalised 2006 biography of Kuklinski Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, contains many unverified claims about Kuklinski being a prolific and sought-after Mafia hitman. Among the claims made in the book are that Kuklinski killed Jimmy Hoffa and helped dispose of his body; that he was one of the hitmen who murdered Bonanno boss Carmine Galante; that he was one of the hit team put together by John Gotti and Sammy Gravano to kill Gambino boss Paul Castellano (specifically, Kuklinski said he was told to kill Castellano's driver Tommy Billotti); and that he killed notorious Gambino enforcer and hit man Roy DeMeo (Carlo retracted this claim in the postscript to a later edition of the book). Given that Kuklinski was never linked to any of these crimes by the known participants, informants, law enforcement or mob investigators, these claims are not taken seriously by mob historians and aficianados.
In reality, Kuklinski has never been confirmed to have killed a single ranking member of a Mafia family or committed a murder ordered by one. He is also conspicuous by his absence from well-known books about Roy DeMeo and his crew: he was not mentioned once in Murder Machine by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci, or For the Sins of My Father by Albert DeMeo. He was never mentioned by Sammy Gravano, whose testimony implicated dozens of mobsters and associates when he became an informant. Another Philip Carlo biography, of Anthony 'Gaspipe' Casso, actually contradicts the claim made in Iceman that Kuklinski killed Roy DeMeo by stating that DeMeo's death was a hit ordered by Casso and carried out by Anthony Senter and Joey Testa. Kuklinski's other biographer Anthony Bruno (Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer), said he didn't believe a lot of Kuklinski's stories and he left out the ones he couldn't verify, like Hoffa, Castellano etc.
Three documentaries and a feature film (starring Michael Shannon as Kuklinski) have also been produced on Kuklinski based on his interviews and the results of the task force that brought Kuklinski to justice.