The "Hollywood Ripper": He killed for the thrill of it, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say serial killer Michael Gargiulo lived near his victims and spied on them.

The Hollywood Ripper

Throughout much of his 2019 trial, prosecutors described Michael Gargiulo as a predator who lived near his victims, targeting women he found attractive – a serial killer with a sexual bent. Gargiulo, who became known as the "Hollywood Ripper," was convicted last August of the murders of two women, and the attempted murder of a third.  

"This was somebody who was going to take pleasure in plunging a knife into their victim over and over and over again," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Dameron said.

Prosecutors detailed an elaborate preparation and research that preceded his crimes, including a pattern of stalking.

"Michael Gargiulo, for almost 15 years, was watching, always watching," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon told the court. "And his hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women."

Forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie tells "48 Hours" that for serial killers like Michael Gargiulo, stalking isn't enough.

"At some point for some of these individuals, it's not enough to just think about it anymore, and they have to move to the next step," Mohandie said. "They have to actually kill in order to get the same degree of stimulation."

Jurors were taken out of court to see where everything happened – allowing them a chance to see how close Gargiulo lived to his victims.

To put it all in perspective, Gargiulo lived within a few hundred feet of Ashley Ellerin in 2001. A few years later, his El Monte apartment was just across the courtyard from Maria Bruno. In 2008, Gargiulo lived right down the alley from then 26-year-old Michelle Murphy.

It's a pattern that Los Angeles prosecutors say began with the 1993 murder of his neighbor, 18-year-old Tricia Pacaccio. Although Gargiulo has yet to face trial in that murder, prosecutors say the Pacaccio case in Illinois is like the California cases.

And it is in Illinois that our story begins, Saturday, May 30, starting at 9/8c.