According to Kutcher’s testimony, he and Ellerin had made plans to get dinner and drinks on February 21st, 2001, and he had arranged to pick her up at her Hollywood apartment. The last time they spoke was at 8:24 p.m. that night, when he called to confirm their date. Police suspect that Ellerin was killed shortly after getting off the phone with Kutcher, and that she was just getting out of the shower when she was attacked from behind by Gargiulo, who stabbed her 47 times before allegedly fleeing the scene.
Kutcher testified that he arrived at Ellerin’s home around 10:45 p.m. When he rang the doorbell, she didn’t answer, though Kutcher noticed the lights were on inside. After ringing the bell a few times, he assumed that she had “bailed” on the date, he said, and headed to his friend’s house to watch the Grammy Awards.
Chillingly, Kutcher said that before he left, he looked through the front window and saw what he thought was “red wine spilled on the carpet.” “But that wasn’t alarming because I went to her house party [days before] and it was like a college party, he said. I didn’t think much about it.”
Known as the “Hollywood Ripper,” Gargiulo, 43, is facing trial on two charges of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is being charged with the 2001 stabbing death of Ellerin as well as the 2005 stabbing death of Maria Bruno, 32. He is also facing a murder charge in Illinois for the 1993 stabbing death of Chicago resident Tricia Pacaccio, 18.
A former bouncer and air conditioner repairmen, Gargiulo is alleged to have systematically stalked his victims, most of whom were beautiful young women, before brutally attacking them. In the case of Ellerin, an aspiring actress and fashion student who moonlighted as an exotic dancer, Gargiulo allegedly gained her trust by offering to fix her flat tire. Before her death, he was known to show up at her home unannounced and was sighted surveilling the area around her home.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Gargiulo, who has pled not guilty. In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon referred to Gargiulo as a brutal killer whose “hobby was plotting the perfect opportunity to attack women with a knife in and around their homes.”