Yes, it’s true. I’m bringing back Thriller Thursday, and my hope is to have at least two posts a month. This week we’re talking about one of the inspirations for my character Lucy Kendall.
Lucy is a vigilante killer of pedophiles, and her preferred method is cyanide. In the first few pages of ALL GOOD DEEDS, it’s mentioned that she’s taken this idea from Richard Kuklinksi, also known as The Iceman.
Kuklinski, according to the undercover detective who spent 18 months building a case against him, liked to carry a nasal spray bottle filled with cyanide and give his victims a spritz. When I first starting researching for ALL GOOD DEEDS, I had my doubts about this method, so I contacted the writer’s go-to forensic guy, Dr. DP Lyle. He confirmed that cyanide absorbed through the skin would definitely kill in a matter of minutes, and that many times it’s missed at autopsy unless it’s being specifically looked for. So Kuklinksi’s method worked, but his cyanide trick was just one of many. He administered it by injection, putting it on food, by aerosol spray, or with the Lucy Kendall method: spilling it on the person’s skin.
Enjoying his notoriety after his arrest and subsequent conviction, Kuklinksi appeared in two HBO documentaries. He also met with a number of writers, psychiatrists and criminologists. He liked to list his methods of killing: firearms; ice picks; hand grenades; crossbows; chainsaws; and a bomb attached to a remote control car. The Iceman nickname appeared after his claim that he froze corpses to disguise time of death.
As a contract killer for Newark’s DeCavalacante crime family and NYC’s Five Families of the America Mafia, Kuklinkski claimed to have murdered between 100 and 250 men. The crime families dispute his role in any contract killings.
Kuklinksi told police he dismembered his victims, as well as burying them, placing the body in the trunk of a car and having it crushed at a junkyard, leaving bodies on park benches, and placing them in a 55 gallon drum.
Although Kuklinksi had a flair for the dramatic and claimed to have a role in killing Jimmy Hoffa–a claim with zero evidence–the undercover investigation into his activities resulted in enough evidence for him to be convicted of five murders in 1988. He received consecutive life sentences for these murders.
Kuklinksi died in March 2006 in the prison wing of St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. He was 70 years old.