Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Gargiulo: Alleged Hollywood Ripper

Tying Up Loose Ends

In 2007, Gargiulo had started working for Gus the Plumber. He had gotten married and moved in with his wife, Ana Luz Gonzalez, who lived in a Santa Monica apartment across an alley from Michelle Murphy. In fact, Gargiulo's new home gave him an unobstructed view into Murphy's kitchen and dining room.

The night of Murphy's attack, Gonzalez was home asleep.

Juliana Redding
Juliana Redding
When Lewis got the DNA match, he remembered a visit he had received a few months earlier from Detective Lillienfeld. Coincidentally, Lillienfeld was inquiring about the murder of another model, Juliana Redding, in Santa Monica, to see whether it might have been similar to Maria Bruno's. Redding's case turned out to be unrelated, but Lewis now wondered if Murphy's attack might be linked.

Lewis also got another lead after calling Chicago detectives to talk about Gargiulo he was told that LAPD had similar stabbing. The three detectives decided to meet, along with a deputy district attorney. Murphy's case was pretty cut and dried, so the District Attorney's Office filed an attempted murder charge on June 10, 2008, less than two months after the attack.

Now that he knew his suspect's name, Lillienfeld discovered that Gargiulo lived in the same apartment complex as Bruno. Even though Gargiulo was long gone, Lillienfeld searched the apartment. He found nothing in the main part of the home, but noticed an attic and got a ladder to crawl inside.

Up there in a plastic baggie, he discovered a blue medical bootie that matched the one he found two years earlier in front of Bruno's apartment. This time there were enough skin cells on the new bootie to do a DNA test. It came back to Gargiulo, according to court files.

Now with DNA matching Gargiulo to two murders and one attempted murder, Small had enough circumstantial evidence in the similarities of the four cases to file his own case with the District Attorney's Office. Gargiulo was charged with both Bruno and Ellerin's murders on Oct. 20, 2008.

The only things that lacked resolution were the Pacaccio death in Chicago and the nagging hunch by the three detectives that Gargiulo could be responsible for an untold number of other murders.

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