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The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer

The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer

4.3 219
by Philip Carlo

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There were times at home when Richard would have one of his outbursts and break things and then lock himself in his office. Merrick would ask him to please calm down, to “please relax, Daddy.” During these episodes, Richard would explain in a matter-of-fact way, “You know if . . . if I kill Mommy, if something happens and she dies, I’ll


There were times at home when Richard would have one of his outbursts and break things and then lock himself in his office. Merrick would ask him to please calm down, to “please relax, Daddy.” During these episodes, Richard would explain in a matter-of-fact way, “You know if . . . if I kill Mommy, if something happens and she dies, I’ll have to kill you all . . . I can’t leave any witnesses.”

“Yes, Daddy. I know, Daddy,” she said.

As strange and horrible a thing as this was to tell a child, Richard was trying to let Merrick know in advance—out of consideration—what might happen. He wanted her to understand that he was doing such a thing out of . . . love. Only out of love.

He loved Barbara too much.

He loved the children too much.

That was the problem. The only way he could deal with their loss, if he inadvertently killed Barbara, was to kill them. That was how Richard had dealt with all his problems since he was a child.

“But you, Merrick . . . You’ll be the hardest to kill. You understand that?”

“Yes. Daddy,” she said, and she did understand this. She knew she was his favorite, and she coveted that.

---from The Ice Man

Editorial Reviews

Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski was never able to calculate the exact number of his homicide victims. Usually though, his corpse count estimates ranged upward of 100. Kuklinski died in a New Jersey prison in April, but not before true crime writer Philip Carlo conducted 240 hours of face-to-face interviews with this notorious Mafia hit man. In these confessions, "The Iceman" exhibits no modesty or regrets about his ghoulish career.
Library Journal
Carlo (The Night Stalker) has written another captivating true-crime book. This one tells the spine-chilling story of Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. "the Ice Man" because he liked to freeze his victims to throw off forensic investigators. Born into an abusive family, Kuklinski claimed to have killed for the first time at age 14. After a run-in with the Gambino family, he became a hit man for the mob, managing to live the double life of a professional assassin and devoted family man. The author spent over 200 hours interviewing the incarcerated Kuklinski and his family. If one is to believe Kuklinski, he killed upward of 200 individuals, including Jimmy Hoffa, Carmine Galante, and Roy DeMeo. It was only through the diligent work of New Jersey police officer Pat Kane, who spent six years building a case against Kuklinski, that the killing spree ended. This work is written like a novel; readers will become so engrossed in the details that they'll forget that this is a true story. Highly recommended for readers of true crime; perhaps the finished version of this book will provide the update that Kuklinski died on March 5, 2006, at age 70 of natural causes. Michael Sawyer, Rangeview Lib. District, Thornton, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“Carlo effectively tells the life story of the family man who spent thirty years as a professional killer, while hosting barbecues in suburban New Jersey.” —New York Post

“A hell of a book, a brutal page-turner.” —Larry King

“Philip Carlo captured the essence of who my husband was.” —Barbara Kuklinski

“Spine-chilling…readers will become so engrossed in the details that they'll forget that this is a true story.” —Library Journal

“Reading The Ice Man left me cold, perplexed, horrified. No one today writing about the criminals, the streets, has the insight and innate knowledge of the criminal mind. I highly recommend this book.” —Joey Reynolds, host of WOR Radio

“Carlo writes with the sharpness of a stiletto. His words are cutting and brutal and meaningful. I could not put The Ice Man down. It is the most compelling book I have ever read.” —Louis Free, the Heartland Radio Show

“What Philip Carlo did was capture the heart and soul of Richard Kuklinski. I could not put his book down.” —HBO Producer Gaby Monet

“Both my wife and I read this book. While we were reading the book, neither one of us spoke to the other for days.” —George Nooray, Coast to Coast Radio

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St. Martin's Press
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Chapter One
Mortal Sin Indeed

At the turn of the twentieth century, Jersey City, New Jersey, the place where Richard Kuklinski was born and raised, was a bustling Polish enclave. Because of its many Polish Catholic churches and an abundance of blue-collar work, Polish immigrants flocked to Jersey City in large numbers.

The Lackawanna, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Central railroad companies all had bases in Jersey City. Trains from across the United States brought all kinds of produce to the East Coast of America, and this was the final stop. Sprawling rail yards filled the area. Rail tracks ran on just about every other street. Jersey City's main thoroughfare, Railroad Avenue, had a trestle running right down the center of the wide two-way street. Powerful black locomotives pulling long rust-colored trains to the waterfront were the norm; the heavy chug-chug sound and high-pitched screams of steam locomotives came from all directions, both day and night, seven days a week.

Located at the northeast end of the state of New Jersey, Jersey City was ideally located near the bustling metropolis of Manhattan, and from here all types of goods and produce were shipped up and down the eastern seaboard. At its closest point just across the southernmost end of the Hudson River, Jersey City was only three-quarters of a mile away from lower Manhattan--the center of the world--and ferries were constantly bringing goods to the piers that crowded the busy Manhattan waterfront. On a clear day, it seemed, you could easily throw a stone to Manhattan from Jersey City, it appeared so close--the proverbial stone's throw away.

In truth, Jersey City was as different from New York City as another planet. In Jersey City lived the working poor, those struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table. Yes, there was a lot of work in Jersey City, but it was backbreaking menial employment, and the wages were pitifully low. In the summertime it was unbearably hot and humid. Because of underdeveloped swampland nearby, undulating dark clouds of mosquitoes filled the night air. In the winter Jersey City was brutally cold, constantly battered by powerful winds that came tearing down the Hudson River and off the nearby Atlantic Ocean. It seemed during those months like a place in the far northern reaches of Siberia.

Located just next to Hoboken, Frank Sinatra's hometown, Jersey City was a rough-and-tumble town filled with hard-boiled blue-collar workers and their hard-boiled blue-collar offspring. This was a place where a kid quickly learned to defend himself or was victimized and bullied. The strong were respected and prospered. The weak were marginalized and put-upon.

Richard Kuklinski's mother, Anna McNally, grew up in the Sacred Heart Orphanage on Erie and Ninth Streets. Her parents had emigrated from Dublin in 1904 and settled in Jersey City, which was then the tenth largest city in America. Anna had two older brothers, Micky and Sean. Shortly after the family arrived in Jersey City, Anna's father died of pneumonia and her mother was killed when a truck ran her down on Tenth Street. Anna and her brothers wound up in the orphanage. Though skinny and malnourished, Anna was a physically attractive child with dark, almond-shaped eyes and flawless cream-colored skin.

In the Sacred Heart Orphanage, religion was forced upon the children, and Anna had the fear of God, hell, and damnation beaten into her by sadistic nuns who treated their charges as though they were personal servants and whipping posts. Before Anna was ten years old she was sexually accosted by a priest, and she lost both her virginity and a part of her humanity, and grew into an austere, cold woman who rarely smiled and came to view life through hard, unfeeling dark eyes.

When, at eighteen, Anna was forced to leave the orphanage, she went into a Catholic convent, planning to become a nun herself. She had no skills as such and nowhere else to turn. But Anna was not cut out for the pastoral life. She soon met Stanley Kuklinski at a dance sponsored by the church, and her destiny was sealed.

Stanley Kuklinski had been born in Warsaw, Poland, and immigrated to Jersey City with his mother and father and two brothers. At twenty-six, when Stanley met Anna, he cut a handsome figure, resembling Rudolph Valentino. He wore his hair parted in the center and slicked back tight against his scalp as was the fashion of the day. Stanley was smitten by Anna and pursued her relentlessly, and she agreed to marry him some three months after they met. They wed in July of 1925, and their wedding picture shows a particularly good-looking couple who appeared well matched, a union that held much promise. Anna had grown into a truly beautiful woman. She resembled Olivia de Havilland in Gone with the Wind.

Stanley had a reasonably good job as a brakeman for the Lackawanna Railroad. It was not hard work as such, though it was always outdoors and he regularly suffered under the summer heat and the frigid, brutal winters. At first the hasty union between Stanley and Anna seemed a good one. They rented a cold-water flat in a two-story clapboard house on Third Street, just down the block from St. Mary's Church. But Stanley liked to drink, and when he drank he became short-tempered and mean, and Anna soon came to know that she had married a jealous, possessive tyrant who would beat her as if she were a man for the slightest provocation. Because Anna was not a virgin on their wedding night--she could never bring herself to tell her husband that she'd been raped by a priest over and over again--Stanley accused her of being a tramp, a whore. She hated this but stoically suffered through his verbal abuse, which all too often became violent. Stanley was not a large man, but he was strong as a Brahma bull. When drunk he'd toss Anna about like she was a weightless rag doll. Anna was tempted to tell her brother Micky about the abuse, but she didn't want to make a bad situation worse, and divorce wasn't even an option back then. Anna was still hyper-religious, and good Irish Catholics did not divorce, period. Anna learned to accept her lot in life.

In the spring of 1929, Anna gave birth to a baby boy, one of four children she'd eventually have with Stanley before the marriage soured and finally ended. They named him Florian after Stanley's father. Anna had little memory of her own parents; the only memories she had of her childhood were bad ones--beatings and abuse.

Anna was hoping Stanley would mellow with a child in the house, but just the opposite happened. When drinking he took to accusing Anna of infidelity, even said Florian was not his, that she had fucked another man while he was away working.

Sometimes Stanley was kind to young Florian, but for the most part he seemed indifferent to the child, and it didn't take long for Stanley to start beating Florian, too. If Florian cried he got hit, if Florian dirtied his bed he got hit, and Anna could do nothing. Her answer was to go to St. Mary's down the block and light candles and pray. There was nowhere else for Anna to turn, and she grew to loathe Stanley and often thought of leaving him, even killing him, but none of that ever came to pass.

Still, Stanley frequently had sex with Anna whether she wanted to or not. He considered himself quite the ladies' man and was often on Anna without notice or warning or any kind of foreplay: wham, bam, it was over.

Anna became pregnant a second time and gave birth to another boy on April 11, 1935, and they named this child Richard. He was a mere five pounds and had a thick head of shiny hair so blond it seemed white.

With mounting bills and another mouth to feed, Stanley became even meaner and more remote. When he came home on Friday night he was always drunk, and often had the smell of other women about him and lipstick on his collar, but Anna could do little, for Stanley would beat her at the drop of a hat. He viewed her as his personal property to be used and abused any way he wished. Worse, he took to beating Florian and Richard for both real and imagined infractions, and both boys grew to fear and dread their father, becoming sullen and quiet, painfully shy. Stanley always wore a thick black garrison belt, and he'd quickly slide it off and lay into his sons with it, mercilessly whipping them. If Anna tried to intercede, she too was beaten. Violence seemed to fuel Stanley's sexual appetite--often, after beating his wife and young sons, he wanted to have sex, and before Anna knew it he was forcing himself inside her.

As far back as Richard could remember, his father was beating him. He recently related: When my father--father, that's a joke--came home and I said "Hello," he'd say hello by slapping me across the face.

Stanley drank hard whiskey with beer chasers--boilermakers. When he drank he became even meaner and his violence grew more indiscriminate. He took to wrapping his garrison belt around his hard-knuckled fist and punching his sons with it. It was like being struck by a two-by-four. He was fond of hitting them in the head with his belted fist, and often knocked both Florian and Richard out cold. Richard became so utterly terrified of his father that he wet his pants just at the sight of him or the sound of his voice, which caused Stanley to become angry and beat the boy for wetting himself. Little by little Stanley was, in effect, beating the very necessary human elements of compassion and empathy out of his second-born, clearly delineating the path Richard's life would ultimately take.

Finally, Stanley Kuklinski did the unspeakable--he murdered his son Florian with one of his beatings. He hit the frail boy on the back of the head one too many times, knocking the hapless boy to the floor, and Florian never got back up. Stanley made Anna tell family and friends and the authorities that Florian died by falling down the stairs and striking his head. No one questioned their story, and Florian was laid out in the Kuklinski living room, just down the block from St. Mary's Church, where this ill-matched couple had been wed.

Richard was just five when his brother was killed by Stanley. Anna told Richard that Florian was hit by a car "and died." Richard had no conception of what death really was. He just knew that Florian was in a cheap wooden coffin that smelled of pine in the living room as if he were asleep, but he would not wake up. His mother and other relatives were there crying, praying, lighting candles, holding shiny black rosary beads, but no matter what, Florian would not wake up. Five-year-old Richard stared at his ghostly pale dead brother, the only friend he had ever known, wondering why he wouldn't get up. He had always gotten up before. . . .

Wake up, Florian, wake up, he silently begged. Don't . . . please don't leave me here alone. Florian . . . Florian, please wake up. . . .

Florian never woke up.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Carlo

Meet the Author

PHILIP CARLO grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, amidst the world's highest concentration of Mafia members. His intimate, first-hand knowledge of their walk and their talk helped him become a successful crime writer. His breakthrough, The Night Stalker, chronicles the brutal career of serial killer Richard Ramirez. Carlo lives in New York.

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Ice Man 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
' IT IS AS IT WAS ' As the lead investigating and arresting officer in the Ice Man case I'm compelled to respond to all the critics, doubters and unbelievers. 'You have no clue'. Understand this. Richard Kuklinski was nothing less than a finely tuned, well oiled killing machine, plain and simple. No matter who you were, make a mistake with him and chances are your going to pay the consequences big time. When dealing with him even the smallest mistake could demand serious payment,game over. Phil Carlo's book could have easily went several hundred more pages. Publishers mandated a 400 page maximum. In those additional pages Carlo could have easily demonstrated kuklinski's involvement with the more notorious killings with physical evidence, analyzation of crime scene photographs and many corroborating interviews. You people have exposed yourselves for what you really are and have very clearly demonstrated your jealousy, ignorance and incompetence. Before you make a personal attack on someone like Phil Carlo get your facts straight and do your homework like I did for the seven years it took me to take Kuklinski down and finally put him away. Trust me on this. I know for a fact the extent of Kukinski's organized crime connections and diabolical sinister behavior. I have personally seen the results of his handiwork, not a pretty site. After reviewing all my experiences on this case, sifting thru all the physical/circumstantial evidence, hard core intelligence and countless independant corroborating interviews I came to a thorough and complete understanding of the 'Ice Man' for what he was, the worst of the worst afraid of absolutely nothing and an experts expert at his craft, murder. I have come to this conclusion. Personal attacks are unjustified but if made should be conducted by someone who walked the walk not talked the talk. Oh, by the way don't just read Carlo's book. Take a hard look at the documentaries and you get a very small minute fraction of what Kuklinski was about. Sit down with Kuklinski, get in his face challenge and confront him at his house like I did and it all comes together like a sweet puzzle. Here is something else for you self proclaimed experts that steadfastly refuse and fail to think outside of the traditional box. No one, absolutely no one has ever proved Richard Kuklinski lied about the murders. Bravo Phil Carlo, You Da Man.
Maxwellsmart More than 1 year ago
I read this book twice. Probably the best book on how a hitman works. Be prepared for some grusome ways to kill someone Highly recommoned this book Maxwell Smart
kay-ms More than 1 year ago
This book was very informative. The crimes, family, and everyday life of The Ice Man were all written in great detail. Recommended for anyone who likes true crime.
AMNJ More than 1 year ago
This book is better than fiction. I couldn't put this one down. This book read like any great thriller that you'll find on the bestseller list, but the fact that everything is true made it an even more compelling story. This book puts you deep into the mind of a serial killer and helps you to understand how some people can commit atrocious crimes such as torture and murder and go on living their lives without an ounce of regret.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer Philp Carlo Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer is a non-fiction book based on one of the most notorious Contract Killers(people who are hired murderers through the Mafia), in the United States, Richard Kuklinski, aka THE ICE MAN. The book talks about how he became involved in the lifestyle, and describes in detail a few out of over 200 of his vicious murders. It brings you into the life, not only of Richard and his past, but into the lifestyle of contract killers in general. The major themes include loyalty, the obvious-murder-and morality vs ethics. As a person that is very interested in learning about the Mafia lifestyle and murder in general, this book was very interesting to me, but if you are not a person who takes murder well, I would not recommend this book, seeing that it goes into extraordinary detail. The actual story, and basis behind it were very interesting to me, and I liked how involved you got with all the characters, and knew who Richard should have trusted before he knew. The major problem I had with the book was the writing style; because it was based on interviews, it had a lot of-much needed-explanation. Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the lifestyle. If I had to rate this book I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, due to the writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was horrible but the story is really good. A little distracting to read and a little long but overall a good book.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
Great book about one of the most notoriously unknown killers of all time! Richard Kuklinski was a very interesting man to say the least, his family life, his secret life of murder and his long list of petty crimes and schemes! When you finish "The Ice Man", you'll feel as if you know the guy. The book starts off talking about Richard's horrible childhood and how/when he committed his first murder and takes you through his early days of crime and his association with the Mafia! "Big Rich" as he was known to his friends killed over 100 men, possibly as many as 200. He killed using almost every means possible. Kuklinski claims to have killed the infamous Jimmy Hoffa and ruthless mobster Roy DeMeo. He not only killed for money, he killed without a reason. Strangers, punks, thugs and the homeless all felt the wrath of the Ice Man, but never women or children according to Richard. Many people, including Richard Kuklinski believe he was poisoned while in prison, which ulitmately led to his death. Richard was going to testify against Sammy (the Bull) Gravano, he died in prison days before! Great read, very interesting stuff, truly a natural born killer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Man this guy was crazy I love this book, couldn't put the book down!
Themetra More than 1 year ago
I am an avid true crime reader, and richards story is very interesting, but the writing in this book is atrocious! Lots of typos, which aren't even the worst part... It just doesn't read like a book, it's more like a list of chronilogical events with a desription. I feel the book needs to flow much better, it's very choppy and I'm surprised that nobody else has mentioned this.
Carbone More than 1 year ago
If you have any interest in the mafia, this is possibly the best book you will ever read. The craziest stories are often true stories. This story is no exception. There is basically a twist, or a mind-blowing event every few pages in this book... literally. I would confidently say this is the best book I have *ever* read. Theres over 500 pages and I've read it twice. And I never do that :)
StephNEZ More than 1 year ago
I have this book on my Nook. The Nook adaptation has a few typos per chapter that I'm used to, but otherwise it works well with it. This book was hard to read at a couple points because of the grotesque reality of it. Unfortunately it's a true story. It was well written though. There was interviews from all the family so none of the information was factual or guessed. A sad but true tale of a man. Very compelling and a situation where it is so sad, gross and harsh, but you can't look away. It has your emotions all over the place. You can't make up the past, but Philip Carlo did a great job of organizing the events and writing about it.
MarienicollBetaIN More than 1 year ago
Iceman, was a scary fast page turner. Really got you inside of the mind of a killer. I do believe he really didn't care about anyone but himself. I can't imagine how I would feel if I was his wife or children. Never knowing or asking questions about what he did during the day. I think it would haunt me for the rest of my life knowing I lived and slept next to a horrible monster that had no mercy in taking another persons life, or having remorse how a family would feel to find out the truth. i'm very interested in doing my own research on the videos of of Iceman that was caught on camera and to here some things out of his own mouth with his own voice. Excellent read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many grammar errors and typos. If the story was not so interesting I would not have continued reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. The only issues i saw were the typos and repitition. Other than that it is a great biography
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written book. It is amazing to me how anyone could do such things. Only reminds me you never know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IT kept me reading until I was done. Very well done
WolfgangVanHalen More than 1 year ago
This book gives the reader real insight into the monster that was Richard Kuklinski (He died in 2006). This book shows the world how you create a remorseless murderer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting book. I followed the iceman when all this first broke out in the news and was fascinated by his story and his life. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One word, GREAT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Very graphic, but rather fascinating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy reading true crime you will really enjoy this book.
Kristylee More than 1 year ago
Grammatical errors aside, I loved this book! Could not put it down! Finished in a weekend. Fascinating story about a psychopathic man who also had some surprising soft spots. I have followed all of the HBO series on this man and the book was fabulous.
HenryHetfield More than 1 year ago
The intensity of the book kind of dropped off at the end, but overall it was an excellent read.  It is beyond my comprehension how someone like Richard Kuklinski had been able to kill repeatedly without getting caught for so long.  A definite eye-opener for anyone who wants to learn how not to investigate crime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Ice Man is a very detailed book that outlines Richard Kuklinski's life, how he was raised, and how he became a contract killer. I like how it goes back to when he was born and his upbringing with parents that showed very little love if any for Richard or his siblings. Through this book you learn how Richard lead a double life with family being a priority in one, and contract killing in another. Richard uses several different methods to kill, and if a contract required him to make the person suffer, he would not hesitate to do so. This book follows the Ice man's life from start to finish with details only Richard would know. I very much enjoyed reading Ice Man, and would recommend to anyone who enjoys mafia books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a mind-blowing story!