Inside the horrific crimes of the Hollywood Ripper who sliced off breasts and murdered Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend

THE ‘Hollywood Ripper’ was convicted of murdering two women, including Ashton Kutcher’s then-girlfriend, in August 2019.

And on Friday, Michael Gargiulo was sentenced to death for the murders ofAshley Ellerin, 22, in 2001 and Maria Bruno, 32, in 2005.


The former bouncer, air-conditioner repairman and aspiring actor was also found guilty of attempted murder in an attack on a Santa Monica woman, Michelle Murphy, in 2008.

And he’s believed to have killed up to 10 women in total – including 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio in 1993, whose murder he's due to stand trial for soon.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon said: “What no one knew for many years is that Michael Gargiulo was leading a double life”.

He was dubbed the “boy next door killer” because he targeted women who lived nearby after learning their routines and habits.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, who sentenced the 45-year-old to death, called his crimes “vicious and frightening”.

According to New York Daily News, he added: "In this case, everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him.”

Here we look at his reign of terror.

Stabbed 47 times before Ashton Kutcher date

Ashley Ellerin was found in her Hollywood home with 47 stab wounds, on the night she was due to go on a date with Ashton Kutcher on February 21, 2001.

The impact of the stab wounds had nearly decapitated her.

Ashley had met the then 24-year-old Gargiulo when she went to get her flat tyre fixed.

Ashley feared she had a stalker after her killer had started showing up to her apartment unannounced offering to fix things.

Ashton – who began dating Ashley that month – testified at the trial, and detailed the night she was found dead, revealing how he went to pick up the 22-year-old fashion student to take her to a post-Grammys party.

But when he arrived at her home, she didn’t answer the door.

The Hollywood actor told the court: “I knocked on the door. There was no answer. Knocked again.

“And once again, no answer. At this point I pretty well assumed she had left for the night, and that I was late, and she was upset.”

He added that before he left, he peeked through the windows and saw what he described as a stain on the floor.

He said: “I saw what I thought was red wine on the carpet. But that wasn’t alarming because I went to her house party [days before] and it was like a college party.

“I didn’t think much about it.”

He added: "I remember the next day after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives and said 'my fingerprints are on the door'. 

“I was freaking out."

The stain later turned out to be Ashley’s blood.

Slashed neighbour's breasts off

On December 1, 2005, Gargiulo stabbed his neighbour Maria Bruno in her sleep in her El Monte, California, home – and even slashed her breasts off. 

She was found horrifically mutilated by her estranged husband, Irving Bruno, who had custody of her children – two-year-old twins, a four-year-old and a five-year-old.

Irving told the 911 dispatcher that he found her body in a pool of blood, and that her breasts had been cut off. 

One of her nipples was put over her mouth.

Investigators said that Gargiulo had climbed into Maria's house via the window to kill her.

Having recently separated from Irving, Maria had just moved into the apartment to start a new chapter of her life 10 days earlier, according to CBS’s 48 Hours Mystery.

Ironically, she’d chosen to move into her apartment building specifically because of its security.

The only survivor

Michelle Murphy, now 39, is the only person who survived an attack by Gargiulo.

She lived across the alley from Gargiulo at the time of the attack in 2008.

During her 2019 trial, gruesome photos of her wounds were shown to the jury.

They included images of deep and bloody gashes to her right arm, chest and hands.

Other pictures showed trails of blood through the apartment, blood-spattered sheets and bloodstains on the front door with a bloody hand-print on the floor.

Michelle described how she was woken up by a hooded attacker who straddled and repeatedly stabbed her with a serrated knife in her Santa Monica apartment in April 2008.

She revealed she grabbed the knife’s blade and kicked the man off her bed in a bid to save her life.

She said: “There was someone on top of me stabbing me. My arm was being stabbed.

“'I could tell it was a knife. I thought it was serrated … I grabbed at the knife with both hands to get some leverage to keep him from stabbing me. 

“But he still stabbed me.”

She added that Gargiulo had said "I'm sorry" to her as he ran out of the door.

18-year-old found dead by her dad

Gargiulo will now be extradited to the state of Illinois, where he will stand trial for the 1993 killing of Tricia Pacaccio – who was just 18 when she died.

She was stabbed 12 times outside her home in Glenview, Illinois, right before she was supposed to head to Purdue University to study engineering and environmental issues. 

She had gone out with her friends on August 13, 1993 for a scavenger hunt, and had left at 1 a.m. to drop a friend off on her way back home. 

However, she didn't make it inside.

Her father found her body on their steps the next morning.

Her friends, classmates and boyfriend were all questioned after her death, and her boyfriend was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

Gargiulo, who’s accused of murdering her, was Tricia’s neighbour. 

Along with other neighbours, he was interviewed by police at the time, but police didn’t find him suspicious. 

That was before he moved on to Los Angeles and committed the crimes he’s been charged with.

However, while he’s been sentenced to death for his crimes, it's unlikely it will be carried out any time soon, as the state of California has not executed anyone since 2006 and the current governor has halted executions while in office.



 

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