The 'Hollywood Ripper' Gets Death for Gruesome Murders of 2 Women; 1 Victim Was Ashton Kutcher's Date

Three women killed by 'The Hollywood Ripper.' Michelle Murphy, 26, was the only survivor.
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Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler called Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 45, crimes “vicious and frightening,” the Associated Press reported.

A man dubbed “The Hollywood Ripper,” was sentenced to death Friday for the gruesome killing of two women who were brutally slain in their Los Angeles home. One of the woman was killed hours before she was to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, according to a published report.

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, 45, was handed down the sentence by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, who called Gargiulo's crimes “vicious and frightening,” at the day-long hearing, the Associated Press reported.

“Everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him,” Fidler said, the news agency reported.

Gargiulo was convicted by a jury that recommended his execution nearly two years ago, but his sentencing was delayed due to procedural issues and the pandemic, USA Today reported.

Shortly before Friday's sentencing, Gargiulo denied being involved in the slayings and said he is unjustly being sent to death row and alleged that his attorneys prevented him from testifying during the trial, NBC Los Angeles reported.

“I’m innocent. I’ve been framed by tunnel-vision detectives,” Gargiulo said.

In 2001, Gargiulo was found guilty for the murder of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was stabbed 47 times in her Hollywood apartment. The case received widespread attention due to Kutcher's connection to Ellerin. The pair were headed to a post-Grammys party before the tragic murder,  CBS News previously reported.

Kutcher said at the trial that he was late to pick up Ellerin, who did not answer her door. He looked through a window and saw blood stains that he thought were spilled wine. He testified that he briefly feared he would be a suspect in the case since he was one of the last to communicate with Ellerin, a report said.

Ellerin, who was from Northern Carolina, was a fashion design student. She had met Kutcher through mutual friends. 

Michael Ellerin, Ashley’s father, was one of the relatives who spoke at the hearing and shared his heartache as they waited nearly two decades to get justice for their daughter.

“It marked the beginning of an altered, diminished, heartbreaking life,” he said.

After Ashley’s murder Gargiulo would go on to kill again.

In 2005, he was convicted of the grisly murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno, a mother of four young children, in her El Monte home. Bruno was mutilated. Her breasts were cut off and her implants were removed, the AP reported.

And, in 2008, Gargiulo was found guilty of the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who survived the attack where she was stabbed eight times in her Santa Monica apartment. Her  attack led to Gargiulo’s eventual arrest for the killings of Ellerlin and Bruno, NBC reported.

Murphy was a key witness at the trial. She told the judge she “still fears spending the night alone.”

Gargiulo, who worked as an air conditioner and heater repairman, bouncer and an aspiring actor, is expected to be extradited to Illinois for the 1993 killing of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio.

The young woman, who was entering Purdue University as a freshman before her murder, was stabbed repeatedly outside her Glenview, Illinois, home after a night out with friends in August 1993. Pacaccio was the sister of one of Gargiulo's childhood friends, the news outlet said.

During the trial, prosecutors were allowed to present evidence from that case that would portray Gargiulo as a “stone cold serial killer who preys on women,” NBC reported.

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