Did you know that when Ashton Kutcher was 23, a woman he’d been dating was murdered by a serial killer?
Ashley Ellerin was a beautiful 22 year old fashion design student who had been prominent in the Los Angeles social scene. She was not only known for her beauty, but for being so good natured and friendly; sadly this friendliness may have gotten her killed.
Michael Gargiulo lived just a couple hundred feet away from Ashley, and he had become obsessed with her. Friends would later say he had creeped them out; the man always seemed to be hanging around, and he could often be spotted sitting outside just staring up at Ashley’s apartment. The young woman didn’t seem to mind this too much; Michael had once helped her out by fixing the apartment’s air conditioner – he’d done her a favor, so he must be a decent person. Ashley never thought of her stalker as a threat.
On February 21st of 2001 Ashley had agreed to be Ashton’s date for the Grammy Awards after parties. Ashton had stopped by the apartment to pick her up, but Ashley never answered the door. When the actor peered through a window, he saw what he believed at the time to be red wine stains on the floor; he never could’ve imagined that his date was just feet away, lying in a pool of her own blood. Ashley had been attacked just after getting out of the shower; Michael stabbed this young woman 47 times, slashed her throat so deeply that she was nearly decapitated, and posed her body. The next day Ashley’s roommate discovered her remains.
Michael’s first known murder had occurred in Glenview, Illinois on August 13th of 1993 when he was just 17. The victim was a friend’s sister, Tricia Pacaccio. Tricia had been out with friends that night; when she returned home, she was stabbed a dozen times and her arm was broken while standing on the back doorstep of her family’s home. Her dad was the one to discover Tricia’s bloody corpse. It’s said that after the murder Michael had set off alarm bells with his victim’s family; he was too attentive, always lurking about, and even began presenting gifts to Tricia’s grief stricken parents. Though he was a suspect, since Michael had been friendly with Tricia’s younger brother the DNA discovered at the crime scene was explained away. There just wasn’t enough to charge him at the time; the case went cold, and this killer moved to California.
In December of 2005, Maria Bruno moved into an apartment near Michael, an apartment she’d ironically chosen because of it’s extra security features. Maria had just recently separated from her husband, a man with whom she’d shared 4 young children. This woman was absolutely drop dead gorgeous, and she had unknowingly caught her homicidal neighbor’s attention; less than two weeks after she moved in, Maria life was stolen. Michael gained entry to the apartment through a kitchen window, and he attacked his victim as she lay sleeping in her bed. She was stabbed 17 times, her throat was slashed, and her body posed; if that weren’t enough, the killer severed Maria’s breast and stuffed an implant in her mouth. Her former husband is the one who discovered Maria’s corpse, thankfully the children had been staying with their father on the night in which this tragedy occurred.
In 2008, Michael attempted to murder another beautiful neighbor as she lay sleeping in bed; this victim, Michelle Murphy, fought like hell and actually survived! This incredible young woman positively identified Michael as her attacker, and bloody DNA left at the scene physically connected him to the crime. On June 6th of 2008 this serial killer was taken off the streets.
Michael was charged with his California murders, and he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. For whatever reason this killer was not tried until last year. At court Ashton Kutcher did testify; the actor said that he originally believed that Ashley was upset with him for being late that night, and that she must’ve left without him. He testified, “I remember the next day after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives an said ‘My fingerprints are on the door. I was freaking out.”.
Michelle Murphy, the brave survivor, also testified. She recounted waking up in the night to find the man standing above her bed with a blade in his hands; she fought for her life, and the killer only left her home after he’d been cut. She told the court of all she’s been through, and of the lasting psychological damage which Michael caused. She now suffers from debilitating insomnia, she has terrible nightmares, and is now understandably deathly afraid of the dark. She’s not only never gone back to that apartment, but avoids the entire neighborhood and even her former neighbors.
Michael was found guilty and sentenced to death. He may still be tried for the other two known murders, and during interrogation he mentioned a body count of ten. Whether anything will come of this or not, only time will tell. I shall update you when and if there is more.
*The original photo I added with Ashton and a blonde lady, she is not the victim. When you search Ashley’s name, those are the photos which pop up first, on multiple sites. I do apologize for my error, and it has been removed. I always try to get it right, I research and cross reference just about every word I write, I would never intentionally mislead. That said, photos are much more difficult for me to check. I am one person, and try my best, which is all I can do. Thank you for reading.