Prosecutors called him “the boy next door killer.”
He was an air conditioner repairman and for 15 years, authorities say he preyed on attractive, charismatic young women from within their own homes. They called him the “Hollywood Ripper” and a “serial sexual thrill-killer” — and his victims were often his neighbors. Michael Gargiulo, whose trial began this week in Los Angeles is facing two murder charges, and one count of attempted murder.
In their opening statements, the prosecution laid out how Gargiulo used to “watch, shadow, stalk and hunt down,” the women he killed, according to the Associated Press. They said Gargiulo’s “hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women with a knife in and around their homes.”
"What you will hear is that Michael Gargiulo for almost 15 years was watching, always watching," said prosecutor Daniel Akemon.
Gargiulo is accused of stalking and killing fashion student Ashley Ellerin, actor Ashton Kutcher’s former girlfriend, as well as California woman Maria Bruno, according to The Washington Post. Gargiulo also stabbed another woman in her bedroom, but she survived, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Kutcher, who was acting on “That ‘70s Show” at the time of Ellerin’s 2001 murder, may be called upon as witness in the trial. Kutcher told police he had tried picking Ellerin up for a Grammy after party the night of her death, but left when she didn't answer the door. He did tell authorities he saw what he thought were red wine stains through the 22-year-old’s back window.
Investigators say Gargiulo is also responsible for the 1993 Illinois murder of high school graduate Tricia Pacaccio, who he stabbed 17 times on her doorstep. Gargiulo will likely be extradited to the state following his trial in Los Angeles, which is expected to last six months.
Gargiulo was linked to the crimes through DNA evidence, but his defense attorney, Daniel Nardoni, told the jury that no murder weapons had been found, and suggested his client had no motive in the slayings.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the killings, which allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2008.
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