After more than a decade in jail, alleged serial killer Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 43, goes on trial today in Los Angeles. Prosecutors described him as a serial, psychosexual, thrill killer.
Gargiulo stands accused of brutally and fatally stabbing to death three women, attempting to kill a fourth and, it’s alleged he may be responsible for the slayings of as many as 10 women.
Gargiulo is dubbed the ‘Hollywood Ripper.’
In court Thursday, prosecutors laid bare a grisly and horrific detail not previously released; he allegedly cut off the breasts of one victim.
Gargiulo is alleged to have murdered actor Ashton Kutcher’s former girlfriend in 2001. It’s being reported Kutcher will testify.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Glenview, Illinois Native, When He Was 18, Gargiulo Allegedly Stabbed to Death 18-Year-Old Tricia Pacaccio
Gargiulo was born in Illinois in 1976. Six months before his 18th birthday, in August of 1993, his neighbor 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio was found stabbed to death on her back-door stoop. She’d been stabbed nearly 50 times. Her father found her body. Gargiulo was a suspect, but police could not find enough evidence to charge him.
Five years after Pacaccio’s murder, Gargiulo fled to Los Angeles in 1998.
It was reported that he left for California to avoid police scrutiny in Pacaccio’s murder. And after landing in Southern California, Gargiulo would allegedly kill a young woman in 2001, and again in 2005. In 2007, he would try to kill another woman, but she fought for her life.
It was not until 2008 that he’d be arrested. And he would not escape justice in the slaying of Pacaccio; he was charged in her brutal murder in 2011.
2. Gargiulo’s Alleged Slaying of Ashley Ellerin, Ashton Kutcher’s Then-Girlfriend, Was a Horrific Murder
On February 21, 2001, he is alleged to have brutally stabbed Ashley Ellerin 47 times, the same amount of stab wounds as Pacaccio.
Ellerin was left to bleed to death in her Hollywood home after suffering numerous deep and horrific stab wounds all over her body, neck and head.
The design student was involved romantically at the time with actor Ashton Kutcher. It was reported the two had a date to attend an award party that night.
It’s being reported Kutcher is on the witness list.
3. Gargiulo is Alleged to Have Murdered Neighbor Maria Bruno in 2005 & His Attempt to Kill Another Neighbor, Michelle Murphy. Led to His Arrest
Gargiulo is also alleged to have slaughtered another neighbor, Maria Bruno, at her El Monte, California, apartment on Dec. 1, 2005. She was stabbed 17 times.
Three years later, in April 2008, his Santa Monica neighbor Michelle Murphy fought off his attack. DNA and blood found at that crime scene were matched to Gargiulo.
Gargiulo staked out women, prowling and stalking their homes. He largely struck at night.
Finally, he was stopped when Santa Monica Police arrested him in June of 2008.
4. Three Years After His Arrest, Gargiulo Was Charged With the 1993 Murder of Pacaccio
Three years later, he was charged by the Cook County (Illinois) State’s Attorney with the first degree murder of Tricia Pacaccio.
Why had he not been charged previously given his DNA was found inside the Pacaccio house? In a sweeping Chicago Magazine report of the case in 2011, it was reported that since he knew the family, was a neighbor and was friends with Tricias younger brother Doug, and had been in heir home, “There wasn’t enough evidence, insisted prosecutors from the office of the Cook County state’s attorney. Because Gargiulo had occasionally been in the Pacaccio house, it’s possible that the DNA could have wound up on Tricia’s fingernails through casual contact, they said.”
On July 6, 2011, more than 18 years after Pacaccio was savagely slain, he was charged.
5. Gargiulo is Facing the Death Penalty For the 2 California Murders & the Attempted Murder Charge. After the Trail. He’ll Be Extradited to Illinois to Face Trial There For the Killing of Pacaccio
Although Gargiulo is charged in the two California murders as well as the Pacaccio murder in Chicago.
Though it’s likely he’s killed other women, police have not definitively linked to any other murders. Gargiulo allegedly told investigators that “just because 10 women were killed — and his DNA was present — doesn’t mean he murdered anyone, leading investigators to believe that there are more victims,” it was reported.
It’s anticipated that the trial may last up to six months.