Michael Gargiulo was convicted in August of the L.A. slayings of two women, plus the attempted murder of another

By Christine Pelisek
April 10, 2020 02:31 PM
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The life and crimes of so-called “Hollywood Ripper” serial killer Michael Gargiulo will be the focus of a new episode of Oxygen’s Snapped, airing April 19.

Gargiulo, a father of two and air conditioning repairman, was convicted last August of the grisly Los Angeles-area slayings of two women, as well as the attempted murder of another.

Prosecutors described Gargiulo, 43, as a “serial, psychosexual thrill killer” who stalked and viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims.

All of his victims were young, good-looking and had a zest for life — and all lived near him.

He “watched and waited” for “the perfect opportunity” to kill in “blitz-style knife attacks and then escape detection,” Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon said during Gargiulo’s three-month trial.

Prosecutors said Gargiulo’s reign of terror began years earlier in Glenview, Illinois, where, as a teen, he allegedly killed 18-year-old high school graduate Tricia Pacaccio — his childhood friend’s sister — in 1993. Pacaccio was found stabbed to death outside her home.

While detectives worked to solve the case, Gargiulo moved to Hollywood, where he became a bouncer at the famous Rainbow Bar & Grill. Prosecutors say he stabbed 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, a fashion student he met around their Hollywood Hills neighborhood in 2001. On the night of her death, Ellerin was set to go out on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, then a rising star on That 70s Show.

CHILLER KILLER VICTIMS
Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff and LAPD

Kutcher testified at Gargiulo’s trial that he showed up to Ellerin’s house that night around 10:45 p.m., but she didn’t answer the door. Kutcher, not knowing she’d been killed, said he assumed she had stood him up.

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher
| Credit: FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP/Getty

Gargiulo was also found guilty of the 2005 murder of mother of four Maria Bruno, 32, who was stabbed in her apartment in El Monte, a Los Angeles suburb.

He was arrested in 2008 after he attacked Michelle Murphy as she slept in her Santa Monica apartment. Murphy was able to kick off her attacker, who cut himself during the confrontation and then fled.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo
| Credit: Al Seib-Pool/Getty

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Prosecutors said Gargiulo’s DNA was found on Murphy’s bedspread and sheet, which linked him with DNA found underneath Pacaccio’s fingernails.

In October, a Los Angeles jury recommended death, but Gargiulo has yet to be sentenced by a judge. He also faces a murder charge in Illinois for the death of Pacaccio.

“Snapped: Notorious Hollywood Ripper” Premieres Sunday, April 19 at 7pm ET/PT.