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Crime News Serial Killers

Who Was Maria Bruno, The Single Mother Who Was Killed By 'Hollywood Ripper' Michael Gargiulo?

Maria Bruno was just starting her life over when she was brutally attacked in her own bed by Michael Gargiulo.

By Gina Tron

The serial killer dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper,” thought to be responsible for preying on and murdering a string of women, was found guilty of killing two women, and attempting to kill a third, in August 2019.

Michael Gargiulo, 43, was convicted of the 2001 slaying of 22-year-old fashion student Ashley Ellerin and the 2005 murder of 32-year-old Maria Bruno. He also attempted to kill his neighbor, Michelle Murphy, in 2008, but she fought back and was able to escape.

The shocking case will be reexplored in the 90-minute special, "Snapped: Notorious Hollywood Ripper," premiering Sunday, April 19 at 7/6c on Oxygen as part of the network's "12 Dark Days of Serial Killers" event.

Prosecutors say the suspected serial killer used his job as an air conditioner repairman to gain access to victims, who were brutally stabbed to death. While Ellerin — who was supposed to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher the night she was murdered — is the most publicized of Gargiulo’s victims, what do we know about Bruno?

Who Was Bruno?

On December 1, 2005, Maria Bruno was stabbed repeatedly in her sleep inside her El Monte, California, home. She was a neighbor of Gargiulo and had just moved in to the apartment 10 days earlier, according to CBS’s “48 Hours Mystery.”

As a mother of four who had recently separated from her husband, Bruno was seemingly starting a new chapter of her life. She had chosen to move into her apartment building specifically because of its security, according to “48 Hours.”

Investigators said her killer, known for stalking and slashing women, climbed in through the kitchen window.

At the time of her murder, her estranged husband, Irving, had custody of her children. He was the one who found Bruno’s body, which was horrifically mutilated, according to ABC7 in Chicago.

Maria Bruno Michael Gargiulo G

Irving Bruno told the 911 dispatcher that he found her body in a pool of blood, and that her breasts had been cut off. One of her nipples was put over her mouth.

"She was a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfeld, who investigated Bruno’s slaying, on “48 Hours. "She was all those things.”

Bruno moved from El Salvador to the U.S. when she was a teenager and met her husband shortly after. The two married, and she later gave birth to four children. She left behind 2-year-old twins, a 4-year-old and a 5-year-old.

Gargiulo is currently awaiting trial for the Aug. 14, 1993 murder of Tricia Pacaccio, which occurred when he was living in Illinois.