Gargiulo is found guilty of fatally stabbing Ashton Kutcher’s then-girlfriend and a mother-of-four and trying to kill another woman
Gargiulo, 43, was found guilty on Thursday of murdering two women and trying to kill another in the Los Angeles area between 2001 and 2008
He was convicted in the savage murder of Ashton Kutcher’s then-girlfriend Ashley Ellerin, 22, in 2001 and mother-of-four Maria Bruno, 32, in 2008
He was also found guilty of attempting to kill Michelle Murphy in 2008 in an attack that set off a chain of events that led to his arrest
Murphy fought off the intruder and caused him to cut his wrist leaving a trail of DNA evidence
Hollywood Ripper Michael Gargiulo, [photo], was found guilty on Thursday of killing Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno and the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy in the Los Angeles area between 2001 and 2008.
Gargiulo known first victim is Tricia Pacaccio [photo], was murdered on her Chicago doorstep in 1993 when he was 17 and friends with Pacaccio’s younger brother
Michael Thomas Gargiulo of Santa Monica faced two counts of murder and two counts of burglary in connection with the killings of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, Kutcher’s former girlfriend, and Maria Bruno in Monterey Park, prosecutors said.
The air conditioning repairman had pled not guilty to the stabbing deaths of two women.
“He is adamant he was not involved,” his lawyer Anthony Salerno said.
Ellerin was found dead in February 2001 in her Hollywood Hills home. Bruno was fatally stabbed in December 2005.
Gargiulo entered his not guilty plea when he appeared in court as part of a separate case. He had been was arrested in July, 2008 held in lieu of $1.1 million bail in connection with an April 2, 2008 knife attack on Michelle Murphy in Santa Monica.
He was facing attempted murder and burglary charges in that case.
Police said DNA evidence collected from that crime scene helped link Gargiulo to the two murders.
With little physical evidence tying Gargiulo to the scenes of the two murders, prosecutors during the trial urged jurors to look at the uncannily similar patterns in attacks that were all in places near the place where he lived at the time.
Allowed to cite evidence from the Illinois case, they said all four attacks were the work of a skilled serial killer who studied the lives, homes and habits of victims.
Prosecutors said he stabbed his victims quickly, powerfully and repeatedly with a knife that he knew how to use and that he studied ways to cover his tracks.
‘Those similarities point to one man, one killer: Michael Gargiulo,’ Deputy District Attorney Garrett Dameron said during closing arguments.
The defense relied heavily on the lack of forensic or eyewitness evidence putting Gargiulo at the scenes of the killings of Ellerin and Bruno.
including a former girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher.
The Los Angeles DA’s office displayed graphic photos of the women’s stab wounds. One of the victims was murdered while she stepped out of her bathroom, another was murdered and mutilated in her bed.
Michael Thomas Gargiulo faced two counts of murder and two counts of burglary in connection with the killings of Ashley Ellerin, and Maria Bruno in Monterey Park, as well as, the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy who survived after fighting him off
Gargiulo, 43, lived near his victims, fixated on them and methodically stalked them before he attacked, prosecutors said.
Three attacks took place from 2001 to 2008 throughout Los Angeles County. Prosecutors say Gargiulo’s first victim was 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, who was stabbed to death on her front porch in Glenview, Illinois in 1993. Gargiulo was 17 years old at the time of her death, and he was friends with Pacaccio’s younger brother.
Gargiulo’s DNA was found on Pacaccio’s fingernails.
Years later, Gargiulo moved to Los Angeles and attacked three other women in a similar fashion. He was dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” by the media as he targeted young, attractive women.
Ashley Ellerin, 22, was stabbed 47 times as she stepped out of her bathroom in 2001.
Her throat was slashed and her head was nearly decapitated. She was murdered in her Hollywood home near the then Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Prosecutors said
The night of her murder, Ellerin’s boyfriend , actor Ashton Kutcher, told police he went to pick up Ellerin, a fashion student-model, for a post-Grammy Awards party, but she did not answer the door.
He checked a back window and spotted what he thought were red wine stains on the carpet and then left. Her body was discovered the next day by a friend.
Investigators say Gargiulo crashed a party at Ellerin’s home several days before the murder. Gargiulo can be seen in the background of a photo of the party, which prosecutors showed to the jury Thursday.
A third victim, mother-of-four Maria Bruno, 32, was murdered and mutilated in her El Monte apartment in 2005. Bruno went out the night before her death with her estranged husband, Irving Bruno, for dinner and drinks.
Bruno left her apartment shortly before 3 a.m., but when he returned around 8 a.m. he found a window screen on the floor and found his wife. Her throat had been slashed and one of her breasts was cut off and placed over her mouth.
Police found a surgical shoe slipper near the apartment stained with Maria Bruno’s blood. Some of Gargiulo’s DNA was found near the elastic of the slipper.
The only known surviving victim victim, Michelle Murphy, 26, was able to fight off Gargiulo when he attacked her in her Santa Monica apartment in 2008.
Prosecutors said that Murphy was able to get her legs out from under her as Gargiulo stabbed her arms and chest.
During that struggle, Gargiulo allegedly cut his own wrist and bled profusely over Murphy’s bedspread. As he ran out her apartment, prosecutors say Gargiulo apologized. Gargiulo’s DNA was matched against the blood found on the blue shoe slipper found near Bruno’s apartment.