LA resident, Michael Gargiulo, 43, was found guilty in August of two first-degree murders and one attempted murder
On Friday the jury recommended the death penalty for ‘The Boy Next Door Killer’ in the deaths of the two women
Ashley Ellerin, 22, was found dead in her home in Hollywood hours before she had a date planned with actor Ashton Kutcher
Maria Bruno, 32, a mother of three, was found dead in her apartment complex in El Monte in 2005
Gargiulo is also convicted for the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, then 26, at her Santa Monica home in 2008
Murphy was a fitness buff and fought off her attacker, which caused him to cut himself and leave a trail of blood
The wealth of DNA evidence left behind at the gruesome attack scene set off the chain of events that led to the arrest and charges against Gargiulo
He is currently awaiting trial in Illinois for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio, who was the sister of his friend
Gargiulo committed his first murder in 1993 when he killed Tricia Pacaccio, 18, outside of her home in Glenview, Illinois.
Gargiulo was 17 years old at the time and was a friend of Pacaccio’s brother. In fact, he lived just around the corner from the family.
After the murder, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met Ashley Ellerin.
Gargiulo lived less than a block away and, on the day they met, allegedly asked if she needed help changing a flat tire.
He became ‘obsessed’ with Ellerin, showing up to her home announced and surveying her from a parked car across the street.
Ellerin was found stabbed to death in her home in February 2001, hours before she had plans to go out on a date with Ashton Kutcher.
The young woman was allegedly stabbed so brutally that her head was almost completely severed from her body.
At the time, Kutcher was a rising star of the Fox series That ’70s Show but not yet the household name he is today.
Kutcher testified that the pair last spoke at 8.24pm when he told Ellerin he was running late and she told him she had just gotten out of the shower.
When he arrived at her Hollywood home very late, he said he got no answer when he knocked on the door.
Kutcher testified that he looked inside and saw what he thought were wine stains. He said he left thinking she had gone out without him in frustration.
‘I remember the next day, after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives and said, ‘My fingerprints are on the door,” Kutcher said.
‘I was freaking out.’
Then, in 2008, he attempted to murder Michelle Murphy, then 26, at her home in Santa Monica.
In 2008, Gargiulo attempted to murder Michelle Murphy, then 26, at her home in Santa Monica. Murphy was a fitness buff and fought off her attacker, which caused him to cut himself and leave a trail of blood.
The wealth of DNA evidence left behind at the gruesome attack scene set off the chain of events that led to the arrest and charges against Gargiulo. – The physical evidence against him was so overwhelming that defense attorneys conceded that it was him.
Prosecutors praised Murphy during their closing arguments, saying her resistance against Gargiulo led to his arrest in all of the other cases as they grew increasingly cold.
‘Michelle Murphy, because of her strength and courage, allowed investigators to work backwards,’ the prosecutor said.
‘This case begins and ends with Michelle Murphy.’
The killer has since been linked to the murder of a third woman. He is currently awaiting trial in Illinois for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio. Her father found her fatally stabbed on their family’s doorstep with her house key still in hand.
Gargiulo was a close friend of Pacaccio’s brother and detectives had long suspected him in the killing.
But they could never put together enough evidence to charge him with Pacaccio’s murder – until the attack on Murphy 15 years later.
‘It’s been 26 years,’ he mother, Diane, said on the stand. ‘Every single day I think about her. Her room is the same. The bedspread is the same, drapes are the same. And my grandkids go in there to play, and that’s how I introduce them to Tricia.’
Prosecutors were allowed to present evidence of the case in his California trial to help establish a pattern between the killings.