Michael Gargiulo: Alleged Hollywood Ripper
Ashley Ellerin was like many beautiful young women in Hollywood -- vivacious, fun-loving fixtures of the party circuit with no shortage of friends. With a bungalow within walking distance of the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ellerin lived in an enclave frequented by actors, directors, producers, and others seeking to grab a foothold in the limelight.
The 22-year-old left her upper-middle-class family in northern California and arrived in Hollywood in 1999. The striking blonde turned heads and soon started modeling. She also enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising because she was creative and thought she could be a designer.
But with the Hollywood lifestyle came a seamier side. Friends said Ellerin used cocaine and crystal methamphetamine while partying nights away. She would also take trips to Las Vegas, where she worked as a stripper and pole dancer, according to court records.
"She hung out with a lot of Hollywood celebrity type people," said her roommate, Jennifer Disisto. "She was very kind of friendly and, you know, kind of a free-spirit type."
One of her biggest coups was snagging up-and-coming actor Ashton Kutcher as a boyfriend. The pair had been seen out and about in Hollywood together before he asked her to attend a post-Grammy Awards party on Feb. 21, 2001. The plan was for Kutcher to watch the ceremony at a friend's house and meet Ellerin afterward around 10:30 p.m. The couple spoke on the phone at 7:30 p.m. and again at 8:24 p.m. Everything seemed set.
But Ellerin never showed up. Getting no answer on her cell phone, Kutcher drove to her home thinking that she might be waiting for him to pick her up. He knocked on her front door at 10:45 p.m. but still got no answer. He tried the doorknob, but it was locked.
Kutcher peered through a window and couldn't really see anything wrong. The only thing that stood out to him was a dark red spill that looked like red wine on a landing leading to her bedroom.
Thinking that she was upset and had brushed him off for some reason, Kutcher concluded that she was probably out with someone else, so he left, according to court records.