Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Gargiulo: Alleged Hollywood Ripper


Tricia Pacaccio
Tricia Pacaccio

Tricia Pacaccio had been a beautiful, studious, popular, 18-year-old girl days away from moving away to Purdue University to major in genetic engineering. Growing up in the upscale Chicago suburb of Glenview, Pacaccio had had a storybook life filled with cheerleading, friends, music, and the debate team. Not one to drink or party, Pacaccio would rather be at home reading or studying.

She had also lived one block away from Gargiulo.

On Aug. 13, 1993 Pacaccio was walking down the street on her way to meet her boyfriend, who was going to take her to a doctor's appoint. Gargiulo, who was then 17, drove by in his father's van with another friend inside and stopped to offer Pacaccio a ride. She accepted and was dropped off at her designated meeting place.

The next day, Pacaccio got up as usual and went to her job at a department store cosmetics counter. She then came home and took a shower before heading out with two girlfriends to a road rally.

"I used to always tease her about using all the hot water," said her father, Rick Pacaccio. "When she got done washing her hair, there was no hot water. I said, 'Take it easy on the hot water,' and that's the last time I saw her alive."

After the rally, the girls ate at a TGI Friday's restaurant, then Pacaccio went home. It was 12:30 a.m. On the front porch with her key in hand, Pacaccio never made it inside. Someone came up behind, twisting Pacaccio's left arm behind her back to the point that it fractured, according to court files.

Then she was stabbed a dozen times, including three fatal wounds: to her heart, her left lung, and abdomen. She was also stabbed in the arm, the collar bone, and in the back, a medical examiner later testified. The attack happened so quickly that Pacaccio didn't have a chance to fight back.

As Pacaccio fell to the ground, though, dropping her door key next to her head, she was able to do one thing that would help detectives 17 years in the future and 1,740 miles away she got someone's DNA under her fingernails.

Pacaccio's body went undiscovered until the next morning when her father opened the front door. Unable to bear the tragedy, Pacaccio's family moved out of the home for four years. Medical examiners recovered the DNA from under Tricia's fingernails but couldn't make a match until they received Gargiulo's blood sample from Los Angeles in 2003.

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