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Who Is Michael Gargiulo? New Details On The Serial Killer Found Guilty In 2001 Murder Of Ashton Kutcher's Girlfriend

Photo: Police Handout
Who Is Michael Gargiulo? New Details On The Serial Killer Found Guilty In 2001 Murder Of Ashton Kutcher's Girlfriend

Update: Michael Gargiulo has been found guilty of murdering Ashton Kutcher's ex, Ashley Ellerin, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Who is Michael Gargiulo? The accused serial killer has been charged with the murder of no fewer than three women, including 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was romantically linked to a young Ashton Kutcher at the time of her death in 2001. 

Gargiulo, now 42, evaded authorities until 2008, when he was arrested for the attempted murder of a fourth woman, his neighbor, Michelle Murphy. After his arrest, Gargiulo was linked to the other murders, and charged with three counts of first-degree murder in 2011. 

The case has continued to drag on for years, and Gargiulo made his most recent court appearance last week. According to RadarOnlineGargiulo was brought into court for a motion hearing on Friday, Nov. 2 at the Criminal Justice Center in Downtown L.A. 

The accused murderer reportedly appeared calm during the hearing, where Judge Larry Fidler set another motion hearing for February 2019.  

The trial is expected to begin in spring of next year. In the meantime, here's everything you need to know about the alleged serial killer. 

1. Ashley Ellerin 

Back in 2001, then-23-year-old Ashton Kutcher was the young star of That '70s Show. Long before he eventually went on to marry co-star Mila Kunis, Kutcher made headlines when the 22-year-old fashion student he had been dating was brutally murdered in her home. At the time of her death, Ashley Ellerin was a student at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. The night she was murdered, Ellerin was supposed to attend a post-Grammys' party with Kutcher.

The actor told police that when he arrived to pick Ellerin up that night, she didn't answer the door. 

Ashley's roommate discovered her body the next day. A police investigation determined she had been stabbed 47 times. 

According to the CBS 48 Hours Mystery profile of the case, Ellerin's friends were the first to point detectives toward Gargiulo, a neighbor and repairman who had previously done work on Ellerin's heater. Although friends claimed Gargiulo had displayed suspicious behavior before, showing up at Ellerin's house at odd hours and sitting in his car at the end of her street at night, the case remained cold for years.

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2. Tricia Pacaccio 

Ellerin's friends also recall Gargiulo mentioning his involvement in a murder investigation back home in his native Chicago. At the time, Gargiulo was a suspect in the 1993 murder of 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio. 

Pacaccio was murdered outside of her home, where her body was discovered by her father the following morning. Like Ellerin, Pacaccio had been brutally stabbed multiple times. Gargiulo, who was a friend of Pacaccio's brother, Doug, became a suspect in the murder after the victim's parents noticed some odd behavior from Gargiulo, who began giving the family gifts. 

However, Gargiulo deftly deflected police attention toward another suspect, friend Eric Agazim. Police were ultimately unable to assemble any significant evidence against either Agazim or Gargiulo, and Pacaccio's case eventually went cold. 

3. Maria Bruno 

In 2005, yet another one of Gargiulo's neighbors met a brutal end. 

32-year-old Maria Bruno, who had recently separated from her husband, had only been living in her El Monte apartment for ten days before she met her demise. Bruno was brutally stabbed in her bed by an intruder. 

"It was unlike any other scene, actually, I had ever seen," Detective Mark Lillienfeld told 48 Hours back in 2011. "The violence that was visited upon her was phenomenal. After she was dead her body was somewhat mutilated. And you just, you know, that's — that's crap you see in the movies. In real life that is very rare. It just doesn't happen."

Once again, the case had few clear leads.

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4. Attempted murder and arrest

Gargiulo, who had effectively avoided authorities for years, was finally arrested in 2008 for the attempted murder of his Santa Monica neighbor, Michelle Murphy.

The victim, who was stabbed multiple times, survived and was able to fight the assailant off. The attacker left blood behind when he fled the crime scene, which DNA tests later matched to Gargiulo. 

The suspect was arrested and charged with the attempted murder in Santa Monica. Within months, he was also indicted on two additional charges for the murders of Ellerin and Bruno. In 2011, he was finally charged with Pacaccio's murder as well.

5. Mystery woman 

Since Gargiulo's arrest, detectives have been trying to identify a woman pictured with the accused serial killer in photos discovered on his hard drive in 2008. Detectives believe the pictures were taken in California between 2000 and 2003. 

6. He maintains his innocence 

"My truth is being 100 percent innocent, being wrongfully charged," Gargiulo told 48 Hours back in 2011. In an interview with Radar last year Gargiulo's lawyer said, “He’s changed lawyers a lot, but I’m not going to get into why. I’ve been on the case for about a year. We are moving as quickly as possible, but we have 36,000 pages of discoveries, and that doesn’t include photos and audio tapes.”

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7. Kutcher could testify 

It's been rumored for some time that Kutcher could testify against his former girlfriend's killer. Radar reported that Kutcher could appear at the trial back in 2015. Gargiulo is still awaiting a capital trial, which is now set to begin in spring 2019. 

Kayla Kibbe is a writer wrapping up her final semester at Connecticut College where she is an English major with a concentration in creative writing. She covers trending celebrity and entertainment news, love and relationships, and astrology.

WATCH: Ashton Kutcher To Testify Against Man Accused Of Killing His Ex