Wanna-be serial killer “the Hollywood Ripper” gets death sentence for his crimes

Wess Haubrich

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Michael GarguiloCNN

This case is another example of the overuse of “serial killer” as a term.

The Hollywood Ripper” is yet another example of popular culture not caring about the difference between true serial killers and the rest of the criminal lot who commit murder.

This is a distinction the author has written about extensively on NewsBreak. A true serial killer kills three or more people with a time of “cooling off” in between each homicide. Anyone offender falling short of this is NOT a serial killer.

Why does this distinction matter, you ask? If we cannot get our terms straight, how can we have a real enlightened dialogue on this brand of vicious killer? Classification is vitally important if we are to cut through the sensationalism perpetrated by the media and politicians. Yes, the author is media. However, he does everything possible to avoid tabloid sensationalism. He sincerely apologizes if he ever slips in upholding that.

Anyway, back to the Hollywood Ripper, Michael Garguilo, age 45. The death sentence was imposed for two counts of murder and the attempted murder of another.

So, indeed, he was not a serial killer for lack of trying. It’s a sure bet he would’ve kept killing and by extension enter the realm of serial offender had he not been caught and charged by a California grand jury in 2019. The case was thus held up by the countermeasures the state took against COVID-19.

Garguilo’s M.O. included “blitz” – or surprise – attacks on his two victims, one of which had plans to go on a date that very evening with actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher, who testified at Garguilo’s trial. That victim, Ashley Ellerin, was only 22 years old. He killed her brutally in her beach bungalow.

On December 1, 2005, he assaulted and murdered 32-year-old Maria Bruno. Bruno was a mother of four when her life was mercilessly cut short by Garguilo.

Soon after, Garguilo tried to kill Michelle Murphy. Murphy survived and was a potent force in the courtroom for both Garguilo’s trial and his sentencing.

Garguilo is also still waiting for his trial in Illinois on the murder of an 18-year-old woman.

Watch this space for more as Gargulio’s Illinois trial plays out.

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live

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