BHA46: Iceman & Softee - The Career of Richard Kuklinski
This week we tackle one of the most horrifying real-life supervillain duos of all-time: Richard Kuklinski and Robert Prongay AKA The Iceman and Mr. Softee! A real true-crime epic, this story is one of the most hotly debated mafia-adjacent tales that we have today.
You can listen to the episode right here!
The premise is insane from the start: one of the most prolific mafia hitmen of all time teamed up with a former military demolitions expert-turned hitman/ice-cream truck driver. These men helped each other kill, and together learned new ways of murder and body disposal, all while somehow maintaining a low profile for years.
There is also the theme that these men existed on the outskirts of the one the grisliest eras in New York mafia history, rubbing shoulders with people like Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, Roy Demeo of The Gemini Lounge, and other big name made-men.
Kuklinski was said to have killed somewhere between 100 and 200 people, and it's said that cyanide was his favorite way to kill. He liked staying "creative", using weapons like guns, knives, road flares, ice picks, poisoned food, cyanide spray and injections, explosives, crossbows, and even a cave of wild man-eating rats in the forest.
It's commonly known that Kuklinksi did all this while maintaining a life that one could outwardly consider as an achievement of the "American dream", with healthy children and a seemingly happy wife, in a nice suburban home.
Robert Prongay appears to have done the same thing. The story of Mr. Softee is one that is much less documented, yet is certainly a matter of record. By taking what we've found on the public record and the stories that Kuklinksi has told, we can find the outline of this sinister ice-cream salesman.
This entire story is an amalgamation of police investigation, court record, prison confession, media fascination, and true crime he-said-she-said. The details come from many different angles, and no one seems to be a completely reliable narrator, especially not Iceman himself.
How true is the horrifying Legend of Iceman and Softee? Well, it's certainly not all made up, but we might find certain threads come loose the more we tug! Jump down the true crime rabbit hole with me this week as we investigate the career of The Iceman.
Oh, and PS: for those of you that are keeping up with the life and times of The League of Extordniary Gentlement, you might want to tune into the commercial breaks as well! They will not be, shall we say, "traditional" ad breaks.
This week's featured music:
Rosemary's Baby - Babylon Warchild
The Towers of Babylon - Babylon Warchild
The Way it Used to Be - Arkeologists x Tribesmen
Shut up, Richard - Doc Hammer
Sources for this episode
Swallowing the Camel - Kuklinksi a Liar (this is where Prongay's alleged son can be seen throughout the comments section)
Chicago Tribune - Kuklinski's Story
New York Times - Kuklinksi Dies
Crime Library - Robert Prongay
We are the Mighty - Kulkinski Learns to Kill from an Army Vet
Sword and Scale - The Only Friend He Didn't Kill
And don't forget to check out all three of Kuklinksi's HBO interviews from prison, as well as the books by Philip Carlo and Anthony Bruno!