Michael Gargiulo, a serial killer who was famously nicknamed ‘The Hollywood Ripper’ for his heinous crimes, has been sentenced to death.
Los Angeles Superior Court judge Larry Fidler sentenced the former bouncer and air-conditioning repairman in front of family members of his victims on Friday. The father-of-two will now head to death row at San Quentin State Prison, reports People.
Gargiulo was convicted by a Los Angeles jury in 2019 for the murders of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin in 2001 and Maria Bruno, 32, in 2005. Both women were stabbed multiple times in their homes in LA. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy, who was attacked in a similar manner at her Santa Monica home in 2008.
There is another murder case in which Gargiulo is accused, but he has not been convicted yet. The murder charge is in Illinois, for the death of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio, who was found stabbed to death outside her Glenview home in 1993. The serial killer, who was only 17 at the time, was a friend of the victim’s brother and lived around the corner from her home.
Prosecutor Dan Akemon pointed out the pattern of Gargiulo’s crimes in the hearing, noting that all of his victims were young, good-looking, had a zest for life, and lived near him. In the murder case of Ashley Ellerin in 2001, it was discovered that Gargiulo lived less than a block away from her. The then-24-year-old first met the 22-year-old victim outside her home, asking her if she needed help fixing a flat tire, and then started showing up at her house uninvited. A friend revealed they saw his car parked outside the victim’s bungalow at odd hours, surveilling her home. She was found brutally stabbed 47 times in the Hollywood bungalow in February of 2001.
The victim was an acquaintance of “No Strings Attached” actor Ashton Kutcher, and had plans to go on a date with him the night she was murdered. The actor also gave testimony at her murder trial, telling the court that he showed up at her house that night, but when she didn’t answer the door, he assumed that she had stood him up.
After Ellerin’s death, Gargiulo moved to a gated apartment complex in El Monte where he killed his neighbor Maria Bruno in a similar manner on Dec. 1, 2005. His crimes were finally uncovered after his failed attempt to kill Michelle Murphy on April 28, 2008.
Murphy woke up to a man stabbing her in the arm as she was sleeping, and was able to kick off him off after he cut himself during the confrontation and fled. Prosecutors found his DNA on Murphy’s bedspread, which linked him with the DNA found underneath the fingernails of Tricia Pacaccio in 1993, who is supposed to be his first victim.
Akemon told the jury that Gargiulo “watched and waited” for “the perfect opportunity” to kill in “blitz-style knife attacks and then escape detection.”