A decades-long search for a serial killer concluded this year, and one of the Hawkeye State's favorite sons had a sad connection to the killer.

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Just this summer, a serial killer's future was decided in a court of law. Michael Thomas Gargiulo of California was sentenced to death for the murder of two women and attempted murder of an additional woman. Gargiulo is often referred to by his malicious moniker, the Hollywood Ripper. 

“Everywhere that Mr. Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him,” said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, the judge overseeing this trial.

His victims were all women who lived in California during the early 2000s.

His supposed very first victim is what got his case extra public scrutiny and media attention. Fashion student, Ashley Ellerin was about to go on a date with a young actor on the rise when her life was tragically cut short.

Ellerin was a fashion student in California when she met Ashton Kutcher in 2001. Ashton Kutcher was raised right here in Iowa not too far from Cedar Rapids. He calls his mother's home in Homestead home when he comes out to the Midwest.

Kutcher was supposed to pick up Ellerin at her place and take her for drinks on February 21st, 2001. The actor showed up hours late to take her out. When he knocked on her door she did not answer.

He assumed that she had already gone out since he was a no-show. When he looked inside of her home to get a quick look before he left, he saw what appeared to be red wine stains on the carpet.

Those weren't wine stains...they were bloodstains.

Gargiulo had entered the home sometime before the actor got there and stabbed the young woman 47 times, according to reports. 

"I remember the next day after I heard about what happened, I went to the detectives and said, 'My fingerprints are on the door,'" Kutcher said in his testimony.


Kutcher's appearance at the trial and the testimony he gave garnered a lot of attention from the public.  Prosecutors called on him to be a witness at the trial since he might have been the last person she spoke to before she died.

According to the court records, Kutcher called the young woman at around 8:30 PM. He told her that he was at a friend's house, and she claimed she was just getting out of the shower. He showed up at her door near 11 PM that evening and had called her several times before that.

Kutcher's testimony helped put the man behind bars in July of 2019.

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