'Hollywood Ripper' found guilty of killing Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend
A man dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” has been found guilty of murdering two women, including the girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher, and attempting to kill another.
Michael Gargiulo, 43, was described as a “stone-cold serial killer” who preyed on women in attacks he carefully planned.
The jury also found him guilty of attempting to kill a 26-year-old woman in 2008 but she survived and testified against him.
Prosecutor Dan Akemon said that all the women were young, good-looking and had a zest for life, and all lived near Gargiulo.
Mr Akemon said: “He targeted them for murder and… attacked all of them with a knife.”
He added that Gargiulo “watched and waited” for “the perfect opportunity” to kill in “blitz-style knife attacks and then escape detection”.
Actor Ashton Kutcher also gave evidence in court after he had arranged a date with one of the victims on the night she was killed.
The actor told the court in May that he had kept Ashley Ellerin, a 22-year-old fashion design student, waiting for hours on 21 February 2001 when he finally arrived to pick her up from her Hollywood home to go out for drinks.
“I knocked on the door and there was no answer,” Kutcher said.
“I 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.”
Kutcher said he looked through the window and saw what he thought were wine stains on the floor, but did not think anything of it, and left.
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.”
Ms Ellerin was discovered by her room-mate the next morning and police found she had been stabbed dozens of times.
In 2005, Gargiulo’s second victim, 32-year-old Maria Bruno, who he stabbed while she was asleep, lived in the same El Monte building as he did.
When he struck again in 2008 his potential victim fought him off after he got on top of her and started stabbing her with a knife.
Michelle Murphy, 26, said after she managed to kick him off the bed, he said “I’m sorry” as he fled.
Gargiulo, described as a “serial, psychosexual, thrill killer” gave no reaction when the verdicts were read out and he could now face the death penalty if he is found to have been sane at the time of his crimes.
During the four-month trial, it was revealed that Gargiulo had studied forensics, researched serial killers like Ted Bundy and read a book about how to kill people.
Gargiulo is also accused of a murder in Illinois in 1993 when it is alleged he attacked the older sister of a friend, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio.