Prosecutors described Michael Gargiulo as a "serial, psychosexual, thrill killer" who stalked and then viciously stabbed his unsuspecting victims

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MICHAEL GARGIULO
Santa Monica Police Dept./ZUMApress.com

Michael Gargiulo, the so-called "Hollywood Ripper" serial killer, was sentenced to death Friday.

The former bouncer and air-conditioning repairman, 45, was sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court judge Larry Fidler in front of family members of his victims.

Gargiulo, a father of two, will head to death row at San Quentin State Prison.

A Los Angeles jury found Gargiulo guilty in August of 2019 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 stabbed multiple times in her Santa Monica home in 2008.

CHILLER KILLER VICTIMS
Hollywood Ripper victims Ashley Ellerin, Tricia Pacaccio and Maria Bruno
| Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff and LAPD

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. 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.

Trial People v Michael Thomas Gargiulo - Ashton Kutcher's testimony, Los Angeles, USA - 29 May 2019
Ashton Kutcher testifies during Hollywood Ripper Trial
| Credit: GENARO MOLINA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

During the Los Angeles 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 "watched and waited" for "the perfect opportunity" to kill in "blitz-style knife attacks and then escape detection," Akemon told the jury.

Gargiulo was 24 when he first met Ashley 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 then That '70s Show actor Ashton Kutcher's and had plans to go on a date with him the night she was murdered. Kutcher later testified at Gargiulo's trial that he showed up to Ellerin's 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.

Michael Gargiulo
Al Seib-Pool/Getty

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.

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

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.