“What you will hear is that Michael Gargiulo for almost 15 years was watching, always watching,” prosecutor Daniel Akemon said Tuesday during his opening statement. “And his hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women with a knife in and around their homes.”
Cops say 43-year-old Gargiulo’s killing spree began when he was a 17-year-old high school student in Chicago, where friends describe him as a brawny football player with a mean streak.
His neighbor, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, was found brutally stabbed to death outside her house. She was killed at 2 a.m. as she arrived home after a night out with friends.
When he arrived in Los Angeles, Gargiulo pursued an acting career and even landed a role as a boxer in a student movie.
He made a living doing odd jobs, repairing furnaces and air conditioners, which is how he met Ashley Ellerin, the 22-year-old fashion student whom Ashton Kutcher had invited on a date.
On the night of her murder, Ellerin and Kutcher had planned on going to a Grammy party together. But when he came to pick her up, she didn't answer the door. She was already dead lying in a pool of blood after being stabbed 47 times.
Her roommate, Jennifer Desisto, discovered her body the next day. She spoke with “48 Hours.”
“I entered the house, Ashley was lying across the stairs, blue and covered in blood,” she recalled. “It still traumatizes me to this day.”
In 2008, cops say he attacked 27-year-old Michelle Murphy while she was sleeping. She was able to fight off her attacker and chase him out of her house.
DNA evidence left at the scene eventually led cops to Gargiulo, ending what cops say was a 15-year killing spree.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Gargiulo has pleaded not guilty and insists he is innocent.