'Hollywood Ripper' Michael Gargiulo Convicted of Killing 2 Women Weeks After Ashton Kutcher Testifies
Prosecutors described Michael Gargiulo as a “serial, psychosexual, thrill killer” who stalked and then viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims
Michael Gargiulo, the so-called “Hollywood Ripper,” has been found guilty of killing two women and attempting to murder another.
A Los Angeles jury delivered their verdict on Thursday after deliberating for three days.
Prosecutors described Gargiulo as a “serial, psychosexual, thrill killer” who stalked and then viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims — all young women who lived near him.
The jury will next decide if Gargiulo, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was sane or insane at the time of the attacks. If the jury rejects his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity the case will then move into the death penalty phase. That phase is expected to begin Tuesday.
The former air conditioning repairman and father of two was found guilty of killing 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in 2001 and Maria Bruno, 32, in 2005. Both women were viciously stabbed multiple times in their Los Angeles area homes.
He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who was attacked in her Santa Monica home in 2008.
Gargiulo also faces a murder charge in Illinois in the death of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, who was found stabbed to death outside her Glenview home in 1993.
During the trial, prosecutor Dan Akemon said that all the women were young, good-looking and had a zest for life and all lived near Gargiulo.
“He targeted them for murder and … attacked all of them with a knife,” Akemon told the jury.
He “watched and waited” for “the perfect opportunity” to kill in “blitz-style knife attacks and then escape detection,” Akemon said.
Tricia Pacaccio, 18, was a Glenview South High School graduate in Illinois and had been accepted to Purdue University when she was murdered in 1993. Gargiulo, who was 17 at the time of Pacaccio’s murder, was a friend of her brother’s and lived around the corner from the Pacaccios.
After Pacaccio’s death, Gargiulo moved to Los Angeles and worked as a bouncer at the Rainbow Bar & Grill.
He was a 24-year-old air conditioning repairman when he first met Ellerin outside her home, asking her if she needed help fixing a flat tire.
Ellerin’s friends later told police that Gargiulo, who lived less than a block away from her, would show up to her house uninvited. Another friend said he saw Gargiulo parked outside her bungalow at odd hours, surveilling her home.
She was found brutally stabbed 47 times in her Hollywood bungalow in Feb. of 2001.
Ellerin was an acquaintance of Ashton Kutcher‘s and had plans to go on a date with him the night she was murdered. Kutcher testified at Gargiulo’s trial that he showed up to Ellerin’s house house that night but she didn’t answer the door, and that Kutcher, not knowing she’d been killed, assumed she had stood him up.
After Ellerin’s death, Gargiulo moved to a gated apartment complex in El Monte where he fatally stabbed his neighbor Maria Bruno on Dec. 1, 2005.
Then, on April 28, 2008, Michelle Murphy woke up to a man stabbing her in the arm as she was sleeping. Murphy was able to kick off her attacker, who cut himself during the confrontation and fled.
Prosecutors said Gargiulo’s DNA was found on Murphy’s bedspread and sheet, which linked him with the DNA found underneath Pacaccio’s fingernails.
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Prosecutors also alleged that Gargiulo’s DNA was found on a blood-stained bootie outside Bruno’s house.
Gargiulo was arrested on June 6, 2008, by the Santa Monica Police Department and charged with the attempted murder of Murphy. He was later charged with the murders of Ellerin and Bruno. In 2011, he was charged in Illinois with the murder of Pacaccio.