Michael Gargiulo, an air conditioning repairman man awaiting trial in California for the murders of two women, one of whom was a former girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher, and a third violent attack on a Santa Monica woman, has been charged with the murder by the Cook County State Attorney’s office in Illinois.
Locals may recall Gargiulo’s June 2008 arrest following an incident in which a woman was stabbed in her 12th Street apartment, but survived. Later that year in September, he plead not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of burglary.
On August 14, 1993, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio was found by her father stabbed to death on the doorstep of their Chicago home, which less than a block away from Gargiulo’s, who was also one of her classmates. Gargiulo, 35, has been charged with First Degree Murder in connection with her brutal slaying by way of a criminal complaint filed by Cook County prosecutors.
“Chicago did it,” said Sgt. Richard Lewis, public information officer of the Santa Monica Police Department. “But we’re glad it happened. All of us knew he played a part in that murder.” Lewis was working homicide at the time of Gargiulo’s 2008 arrest in Santa Monica.
On February 22, 2001, 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin was found stabbed to death in her Hollywood Hills bungalow by a friend. Again, Gargiulo was a resident in the same neighborhood.
Ellerin was a fashion student, model, and former girlfriend of actor Ashton Kutcher, with whom she was supposed to attend the Grammy Awards with the night before.
On December 1, 2005, 22-year-old Maria Bruno was found stabbed to death in her Monterey Park apartment, which was again not far from Gargiulo residence at the time.
On April 28, 2008, a Santa Monica woman awoke to a man stabbing her in her apartment on the 1200 block of 12th Street, which was again not far from where Gargiulo was residing at that time. Unlike the previous victims, this woman was able to fend off her attacker, call for help, and make it to a hospital where she was treated and survived.
Cook County authorities have been investigating the slaying of Pacaccio since it occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 1993 when she was found with 12 stab wounds to her chest and torso area. Although Gargiulo was questioned, he was not arrested at the time.
In 2004, investigators were able to recover Gargiulo’s DNA from under Pacaccio’s fingernail, but were unable to proceed with the case. However, his DNA was listed in the national DNA database in association with the murder. His DNA was found on the Santa Monica surviving victim, which allowed authorities to arrest him. Gargiulo’s DNA also linked him to the murders of Ellerin and Bruno.
“Prosecutors have been investigating Gargiulo as a potential assailant in the crime for many years and had developed evidence in the investigation, but were unable to secure sufficient DNA and corroborative evidence that could exclusively link him to the crime and enable prosecutors to bring charges and prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” read a statement from the Cook County’s District Attorney’s office.
In May, the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office participated in a CBS 48 Hours Mystery television investigative episode which profiled Gargiulo’s crimes in California and his potential link to the Pacaccio homicide in Cook County. As a result of the airing of the television program, two new witnesses came forward who had worked with Gargiulo at a bar and grill in Hollywood in the late 1990s.
Those witnesses were flown to Illinois to help with the investigation. According to prosecutors, the witnesses indicated that Gargiulo had admitted that he killed a girl in Chicago and that he made several statements regarding the murder of Tricia Pacaccio, including that he had “stabbed up the girl,” and “left the ***** on the steps for dead.” The additional third-party admissions, coupled with the existing evidence, enabled prosecutors to bring the charge forward, according to Illinois State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
“We have never given up on Tricia Pacaccio or her family and their search for justice in this case,” Alvarez said in a statement. “It has been a very difficult and challenging investigation, but we are extremely pleased to be finally bringing this charge and hopefully providing some measure of closure to a family that has been devastated by a violent crime that no one should have to endure.”
Gargiulo is currently being held in the Los Angeles County Jail.
“It is the start of closure for the Pacaccio family,” said Santa Monica’s Sgt. Lewis.
This story was partially based on reports from truecrimediary.com‘s Repeat Offender and canyon-news.com‘s Michael Thomas Gargiulo Denies Two Counts Of Murder