If you are a fan of crime stories, you are probably familiar with Richard Kuklinski, one of the most prolific murderers in US history. Yet to be corroborated, he claimed he is responsible for the death of 200 people whom he killed as a hitman for the mob and American crime families. Multiple documentaries exist of his chilling story, and Michael Shannon has starred as him in a film.
However, Richard Kuklinski was not your typical murderer. While he racked up his self-acclaimed 200+ murders, he maintained a family, with a wife and children, none of whom knew about his notorious criminal life. The gruesome parts of the Kuklinski story started when he was still a youth.
He Met His Wife, Barbara Pedrici At The Age Of 25
When Richard Kuklinski met Barbara Pedrici, he was 25 years old, and she was 18. She was a secretary at a trucking company where Richard worked at the time. By the time he met his wife, he had spent more than ten years as a professional hitman, after killing his first victim at the age of 14.
But to Barbara Pedrici, Richard was a charming, harmless young man who desired her as his lover. He brought her flowers and was courteous in their interactions. As a relationship developed between them, the other side of the infamous murderer began to manifest.
Months into their relationship, Barbara Pedrici became a regular victim of Richard’s domestic abuse. Not only did he beat her up, but he also isolated her from her friends, and made her dependent on him, a widespread trait among domestic abusers.
Barbara attempted to leave the relationship after a year, telling him she wanted to see other people. But he stabbed her with a sharp hunting knife that pierced her belly quickly. He told her she belongs to him and he would kill her entire family if she left. She remained in the relationship, afraid she would die if she left.
Before meeting and starting a relationship with Barbara, Richard Kuklinski was married to a woman, Linda. She was nine years older than him, and they shared two sons – Richard Jr. and David. Their marriage ended in a divorce.
They Got Married In 1961 And Had Three Children
By the time Richard and Barbara Pedrici got married in 1961, he had committed 65 murders. But this was unknown to Barbara. While she was familiar with his fit of violence, she had no idea he was a career criminal, a hitman for hire, to be exact.
Their marriage resulted in the birth of three children – two daughters, Merrick and Christin, and a son, Dwayne. As a hitman, Richard Kuklinski was renowned as The Iceman Killer, a name he got because he tended to freeze his victims’ bodies to disguise their time of death.
As a family man, however, there was a duality to his identity. He was simultaneously a good and abusive husband/father. It is a behavioral split that his wife famously described as Bad Richie and Good Richie. Good Richie did all the right things, he provided for his family, albeit unknown to the family that the income came from contracted murders.
Good Richie did not possess the sadistic nature of The Iceman Killer who had different killing methods that ranged from knives to lamp wires, fire, asphyxiation, and cyanide. He also enjoyed feeding his victims to rats.
As part of his façade as Good Richie, he did not drink or use drugs. He was also not a womanizer. Richard regularly lavished his family with gifts, ranging from luxury goods like Christian Dior clothes to diamonds and jewellery. One example of his affectionate side was staying up for multiple nights when their daughter, Merrick, became critically ill shortly after she was born.
Richard Kuklinski’s Family Considered And Had A Plan To Kill Him
Despite all the admirable attributes of Good Richie, Bad Richie made life hell for his family. Appearing at irregular intervals, he left lasting scars on his family members. He committed acts of domestic violence against his wife, destroyed their family property and much more.
His acts of domestic violence were not limited to his wife. His daughter, Merrick, once noted of a time Richard killed her dog as punishment for coming home late. As the Iceman Killer, he had a personal rule against killing women and children, but Richard had no trouble hurting his wife and kids.
Bad Richie had fits of rage, unpredictable anger that could last days, and disappear for months. The terror of Bad Richie and the uncertainty of the extremes of his actions forced his wife and daughter, Christin, to come up with a plan to kill him.
The duo had an idea to drug his meatloaf with valium. However, they became too scared to execute the plan, fearful of the repercussion if the plan failed. It wasn’t the entire family that had an enthusiastic interest in Richard Kuklinski’s death.
Richard Kuklinski Had A Close Relationship With His First Daughter
Merrick, his first daughter, had a strong bond with her father, despite his violent behaviour. Being the family’s first child born in 1964, Richard had a special place in his heart for her, and so did Merrick for him. Although she was an equal victim of his rage and crimes, she held and still holds memories of their happy moments together.
Before she was ten years old, she became Richard Kuklinski’s confidant. He would share stories of his murders, his hatred for his parents, who were repeatedly abusive and his father, who murdered his older sibling.
Merrick was also an observer of her father’s crimes. She watched him on a couple of occasions beat men to the point of death. For years, she made repeated attempts to get out from under her father’s toxicity but was repeatedly met with a wall until December 1986.
His Wife Divorced Him While He Was In Prison
Merrick attended his father’s 1988 trial almost every day. After he was found guilty, she visited the prison regularly, until his death in March 2006 at the age of 70. His wife, Barbara, was also a regular visitor at the prison but divorced him in 1993, a few years after his conviction.
Barbara remained a close and influential figure in Richard Kuklinski’s life until his death. She visited him for the first ten years in prison. She convinced him to grant over 240 hours of interviews for books, documentaries, and movies.
As of 2013, Barbara lived in a home in suburban New York with her younger daughter, Christin, and her boyfriend. As of 2016, Merrick, who is bisexual, lives in a small apartment in New Jersey. She retired from the working-class after years of driving a school bus. She is also the mother of two children.