Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Gargiulo: Alleged Hollywood Ripper

Who is Michael Gargiulo?

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo

Gargiulo was born in 1976 and grew up with six siblings, including several sisters, and he lived 100 yards away from the Pacaccio family. He wasn't the most popular kid in the neighborhood. Bloggers on A&E's "Cold Case Files" discussion board recalled him unfavorably, according to a story:

"My family and I lived 3 houses down from Mike and his family. He always was the odd one out from his family, who were all very nice people. He was just always angry, and taking it out on others, usually by bullying them."

And this: "My older brother remembers Michael...and remembers him as being quite angry and violent."

Diane Pacaccio, Tricia's mother, remembers Gargiulo playing with one of her two sons as they grew up. However, unlike other neighborhood kids, Gargiulo would never come inside the Pacaccio home for lunch.

"He was odd," Diane said. Although Gargiulo knew her son, Diane said, Tricia never had any type of contact with him.

One day Diane went over to the Gargiulo home to pick up her younger son who had been playing with one of Gargiulo's brothers. She was shocked by a conversation that she had with his parents.

"The parents said, 'We are afraid of [Michael]. We would like to kick him out of the house but we're afraid he will come back and kill us,'" Diane recalled. "His father said, 'He probably needs medicine but he won't take it.'"

The day Tricia's body was found, Gargiulo called up his girlfriend, saying he was upset, nervous, and scared, and wanted her to go with him to run an errand. She later testified that Gargiulo got out of a car with a small green canvas bag that he said contained knives. Gargiulo disposed of the bag in a building, she said.

After Tricia's murder, Gargiulo's parents packed up and moved, leaving Gargiulo alone in the house, Diane Pacaccio said, adding that his mother later died of cancer.

Gargiulo later moved to Los Angeles where began working out at a gym with sights on a pro boxing career. He also trained in martial arts and worked as a bouncer at a Sunset Strip nightclub. Standing 6'2" and with a dragon tattoo on his back, the muscular Gargiulo was physically formidable.

Good looking, Gargiulo went through a string of girlfriends, including Velma Carrillo, whom he met in an online chat room. He told her he was a boxer training for the Olympics and had left Chicago because his best friend's sister had been murdered. He claimed the police were trying to pin the crime on him, according to court files.

Gargiulo went on to say that his DNA would be at the crime scene because the victim was "almost family to him," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Joseph Purcell later testified regarding a Gargiulo conversation with Carrillo. "Michael Gargiulo would tell her how DNA and the science of DNA would be used to capture suspects."

Gargiulo thought of himself as an expert of sorts because he was an avid watcher of forensics and crime-related television shows.

Other women had more violent encounters. Maria Gurrola dated Gargiulo and found him to be forceful, demanding, and threatening. He once struck her, and she suffered a detached retina, Purcell testified.

"Michael Gargiulo had threatened to kill her if she ever left him and had also told her that because of his study and degree in forensics, he would be able to kill her and get away with it," Purcell testified. Another girlfriend called police when he shocked her with a Taser gun, according to court files.

He lived with various women off and on and fathered several children. His job as a bouncer was left behind for something more stable: work as an air conditioning and heating repairman who used blue medical booties at work.

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