The Ashley Ellerin Case: Ashton Kutcher’s Girlfriend Murdered While They Were Dating
22 year old fashion student, Ashley Ellerin, was introduced to Ashton Kutcher in December of 2000 by a friend.
“She had tons of boyfriends,” LAPD Homicide Detective Tom Small. “At that time Kutcher was still coming up. He hadn’t established his big-time credentials yet. They met through a mutual friend. It was a friendly thing. They went out a couple of times.”
On February 22nd, 2001, Ashley and Ashton planned to go to a Grammy after party together that night. Ashton was running a few minutes late when he went to pick up Ashley. When he arrived, he knocked on the door multiple times, but she didn’t answer. Therefore, Ashton assumed that she was possibly annoyed with him for being tardy. He peered in her windows and saw what he thought was spilled red wine. Ultimately, he just assumed that the stain was from a party that she had thrown the night before.
About 9:00am on February 23rd, 2001, her roommate returned from staying at a bungalow. That is when she came across Ashley’s lifeless, bloody body laying in the entrance of the bathroom. It appeared as if she was in the midst of getting ready for her fun night. Ashley’s last text to Ashton was that she just stepped out of the shower and was drying her hair.
When she found, she had been stabbed a total of 47 times with a lot of them being defensive wounds on her hands and arms. 12 of the wounds were deemed fatal. When Ashton received the news that his date had been murdered, he became worried when he recalled that his fingerprints would be on the door.
Ashley’s friend told police about an odd man that became infatuated with Ashley in the previous weeks. A man named Michael Gargiulo walked up to Ashley and her friend as they tried to fix their flat tire.
He began complimenting Ashley and flirting with her. The friend got an odd vibe, but Ashley’s outgoing nature did not sense any danger so she gave him her number. From there, Michael’s interest in her grew to a worrisome level. In fact, he was seen on Ashley’s home surveillance showing up unannounced and inspecting her property.
The arrest and identification of Gargiulo only came after the murder of two other females and the attack of one who made it out alive.
In 1993, Tricia Pacaccio was murdered walking up to her doorstep.
Trish had an older brother named Doug who often brought around his friends, including Michael Gargiulo. After Trish’s murder, Gargiulo nervously visited the Pacaccio’s in an attempt to confess, but Gargiulo’s family quickly said they had to go home before he was able to speak about his actions. Due to his odd behavior, police caught up with Michael in 2002, a year after Ashley’s murder, to retrieve his DNA. His DNA was positively identified under Trish’s fingernails, but police explained that they needed more proof that he killed her.
In 2005, Michael Gargiulo had moved on with his life, had a girlfriend, and became a father. At that point in his life, an attractive woman in his neighborhood named Maria Bruno caught his attention. Soon, she was also found stabbed to death and mutilated.
In 2008, he moved to Santa Monica, California after turmoil in his relationship. Where Gargiulo went, murder usually followed. A woman by the name of Michelle Murphy experienced a break in where the killer assaulted her and attempted to murder her with a knife. Miraculously, she survived and police were able to retrieve DNA from blood that was on her bedsheets. As expected, it matched Michael Garguilo and he was arrested.
Michael Garguilo was linked to the murders of Trish, Ashley, and Maria, as well as the attempted murder of Michelle. He was nicknamed the Hollywood Ripper.
In 2019, Michael Garguilo’s trial began. Ashton Kutcher was called as a witness to recount the night he attempted to pick up Ashley.
Garguilo was facing 25 years to life after killing three women and the attempted murder of the fourth. However, his trial was delayed because the defense claimed there were unreliable witness testimonies. One of the homicide investigators who was asked to take the stand was involved in a temporary ban from the local jail because he imported contraband to inmates.
Michael Garguilo was sentenced to death in July of 2021.