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Crime News Serial Killers

Who Is 'Hollywood Ripper' Victim Michelle Murphy, And How Did She Fight Off Michael Gargiulo?

Michelle Murphy was able to fight off suspected serial killer Michael Gargiulo, who attacked her in her sleep, and help bring him to justice. 

By Gina Tron
Michelle Murphy Michael Gargiulo G Ap

Of the four women suspected serial killer Michael Gargiulo has been accused of attacking, one was able to fight him off, survive, and bring him to justice.

Dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper,” Gargiulo, 43, is thought to be responsible for preying on and murdering a string of women. In August 2019, he was found guilty of killing two women, Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno. He is still facing charges for the murder of a fourth, Tricia Pacaccio.

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.

Gargiulo, a former air conditioner repairman, was also convicted of attempting to kill Michelle Murphy, but she managed to defend herself from the killer and ultimately help put him behind bars.

Murphy was 26 when she came face-to-face with the killer during the evening of April 28, 2008.

The petite woman, who stands at only 5 feet 1 inch tall, went to bed inside her Santa Monica home around 10:30 p.m. and woke up less than an hour later to Gargiulo straddling her in bed, according to a Daily Beast report. While on top of Murphy, Gargiulo stabbed her all over her body, including her chest, her shoulder, and her arm.

“I woke up with someone on top of me, stabbing my arm,” testified Murphy, now 37, at Garguilo’s murder trial earlier this year. “I could tell it was a knife. I thought it was serrated. I grabbed at the knife... with both hands. I wrapped my hands around the blade... I was trying to hold the knife and get some leverage to stop him from stabbing me. I was still being stabbed. I was just trying to wiggle around to keep from getting hit.”  

Michelle Murphy Michael Gargiulo G Ap

Murphy recalled that she screamed and repeatedly asked her attacker why he was stabbing her. He did not answer. 

At some point during the assault, Murphy kicked him to the floor, and he ran out of the room toward the front door of her home. She had injured him, and he was bleeding, according to Newsweek.

Murphy followed him into the living room, and before leaving, the assailant told her, “I’m sorry.”

While she did not recognize Garguilo that night, he was Murphy’s neighbor, and evidence at the scene led police straight to him, according to Newsweek. Blood drops from his wounds, caused by Murphy, connected Garguilo to the crime scene and confirmed he was the culprit.

Investigators were later able to link Garguilo to the other victims, and he is currently awaiting trial for Pacaccio's Aug. 14, 1993 murder, which occurred when he was living in Illinois.