Family Says ‘Hollywood Ripper’ Killed In Chicago Area First

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GLENVIEW (CBS) — Tricia Pacaccio was 18 years old and days away from going to college when she was murdered outside her Glenview home. 

No one was charged in her case. But that was in 1993. Now, police believe her killer went on to murder other women. The pattern was the same: brutal stabbings to women who lived near the suspect. 

Pacaccio’s parents spoke with 2 Investigator Dave Savini about their fight to get justice for their daughter.

Rick Pacaccio found his daughter stabbed to death on family’s doorstep, with her house key in her hand. 

“How could this be? How come I couldn’t help her,” the father told Savini in an emotional interview. “When they need you the most, you can’t help them.”

Diane Pacaccio says her daughter struggled with her killer. 

“I know my daughter fought back, too, but he stabbed her too many times,” she said.

The Pacaccios believe Michael Gargiulo is the killer.  He was a Glenbrook South High School junior from the neighborhood and is now known as the “Hollywood Ripper” and charged with brutally stabbing three women, killing two of them.  The Pacaccios believe two of the attacks happened after Cook County authorities had enough evidence to arrest Gargiulo in their daughter’s case. 

Part of that evidence is a 2003 DNA swab from Gargiulo that matched DNA on the fingernails of Tricia Pacaccio. Sources say Gargiulo’s DNA was the only genetic material found on her body, even though she had been out with friends and a boyfriend the night she was killed.

Diane Pacaccio who says no one in Cook County will tell them why Gargiulo is not being prosecuted in their daughter’s murder. 

“Someone needs to help us get justice,” she said.

Authorities in California are talking. Prosecutors there are using evidence from Pacaccio’s murder to show Gargiulo killed before.

“There was a great deal of forensic evidence in Illinois that indicated Mr. Gargiulo was responsible for that offense,” Los Angeles County detective Mark Lillienfeld said.

He said evidence includes testimony from Gargiulo’s friends, who say he told them he was at the scene of Pacaccio’s murder.

California police think there may be even more victims.

“We’ve got some indication that there are other victims,” Lillienfeld said.  “We have yet to identify them.”

The Pacaccios vow not to let their daughter’s murder case be forgotten.

“My daughter’s case is not going to go unsolved,” Rick Pacaccio said. “It’s not gonna be put on a shelf.”

A Cook County State’s Attorney spokesman says the Pacaccio case is an open investigation. But the spokesman say prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof because the DNA on Pacaccio could be from casual contact with Gargiulo. 

But sources close to the investigation say Gargiulo gave a 2004 statement to law enforcement claiming he had no contact with her the day she was murdered. The state’s attorney spokesman says the office is unaware Gargiulo said this; his attorney had no comment.

The Los Angeles detectives are hoping anyone who can help their case will call them at (323) 890-5500.

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  • Mike M.

    I hope that they can finally put this individual away for life or even better let the familys decide his fate.

  • w. r. pierce

    Would like to hear more about this case. How come the DNA found here would have been enough to convict in California but not enough here in Illinois? Sounds like the DA’s office let a killer walk. Linda Alverez was mentioned – what was her role? I think you have just scratched the surface on this.

  • L Clark

    If the evidence from Pacaccio’s murder is enough for the CA prosecutors to see that Gargiulo was indicated as the murderer, then why can’t the IL prosecutors see the same thing? The family deserves to finally put this to rest and truly mourn the loss of their daughter. I hope the the developments in teh CA case against Gargiulo are enough to get the IL justice system to take another look into Pacaccio’s murder. The family deserves justice.

  • Sylvia I.

    Even though it’s too little too late, Illinois should IMMEDIATELY convict this “Waste of a Life” Gargiulo. Had they properly performed their duties, more innocent lives could have been spared. What Tricia Pacaccio’s family went thru was devastating enough but then he was let go to kill yet again.

  • Linda C

    DNA from casual contact??? The DNA could just as well have been from Tricia defending herself. Shouldn’t a jury be given the opportunity to decide if there’s enough evidence to convict him? Why is Cook County so unwilling to prosecute this case? Is there something they don’t want revealed about how they handled the case? Did they blow it? They had a serial killer in their hands and let him go.

  • Dee

    Cook County prosecuters should feel ashamed of themselves when it comes to Tricia Pacaccio’s muder investigation. I doubt most people would see DNA evidence under a victims fingernails as casual contact. If Illinois laws prohibit prosecuters from filing charges against a suspect using DNA evidence then Illinois laws need to be changed. Someone mentioned to me that Anita Alverez over saw this investigation from it’s early stages….Is that true? Hat’s off to California for seeing the value of this evidence and using it! As for Illinois, they failed Tricia and all the other victims that followed.

  • Christy

    What happened to Tricia is a family’s worst nightmare – an unimaginable attack on an innocent young woman outside their family home followed by an inept police investigation and a legal system unwilling to prosecute. They did not protect Trica, but they did protect a killer – a killer who went on to take the lives of other women. Who is this system set up to protect?

  • wisdom

    Why wasn’t this case brought before a grand jury ?
    Could the case have been mishandled from the go and now
    it’s being covered ?

    It is entirely possible others may still be alive if a grand
    jury was given the say so. Does the Cook County Attorney
    have that authority in capital offenses ?

    Keep shinning the light on this Dave and thanks for
    your story. Hold someone’s feet to the fire to get answers.

  • Stephanie

    The Cook County DA should be embarrassed. Why would DNA from “casual contact” be found UNDER TRICIA’S FINGERNAILS? Regardless of the quantity of DNA, I believe there is an argument to be made for the location in which it was found. The fact that it was under her fingernails is evidence that she put up a fight… I don’t know of any action I would consider “casual contact” that involves scratching/gripping/clawing someone.

    Given the fact that Gargiulo has killed again, it is apparent that the DA let him slip through the system for years. The least they can do now is provide justice for Tricia and her family.

  • Elizabeth Codo

    I think justice needs to be served, just as long as there’s no death penalty. I’m not saying he should walk, but at the same time how is someone supposed to realize that they did something wrong if they are dead? I also feel awful for the family, I can’t imagine what they are going through. Justice needs to be served for the victim and for the family.

  • Angela

    How can it be that investigators from two entirely different law enforcement agencies view the evidence on hand so differently. How very sad that the appearance of a “mishandled” investigation by the Cook County Police Department could solely be responsible for the deaths of those women in California.

    And what is even more sad is that Tricia’s family has lived for 17 years without closure to this horrific, brutal crime.

    Thank you, Dave Savini, for bringing this story to light and for the sake of Tricia Lynn and the others, please, please fight to get the answers for these grieving families.

  • SUZ P

    Why is it California can use DNA evidence obtained from Cook County to prosecute the “Hollywood Ripper” but Cook County states that they do not have enough DNA evidence to prosecute the “Hollywood Ripper” for Tricia Pacaccio’s murder?

    “There was a great deal of forensic evidence in Illinois that indicated Mr. Gargiulo was responsible for that offense,” Los Angeles County detective Mark Lillienfeld said”


  • Dawn Marie

    MURDER WITHOUT JUSTICE……This is my family’s story. Losing Trisha was a tradegy. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office having the evidence to convict and stop this murderer and NOT is even a bigger tradegy.

    I would like to know when did the burden of proof become the job of the Cook
    County Sheriff’s Office and not the Grand Jury? How is it that the LAPD could use this evidence, but the Cook County Sheriff’s Office could not? Due to their lack of better judgement, other families have lost loved ones.

    I would like to commend the LAPD for doing an outstanding job in connecting the murders.

    To The Cook County Sheriff’s Office…….Is your department embarassed about not prosecuting Gargiulo and allowing him to murder again? It’s time that your department step up and bring Gargiulo to justice for taking the life of my beautiful cousin. If your department needs assistance with how to use the evidence to get a conviction, I am sure that the LAPD will help you out.

    Trisha….you will forever be in my heart. Love your cousin, Dawn Marie.

  • TC

    Thank you for bringing this story back to light. None of us have forgotten the horrible nightmare that the Pacaccio Family has had to endure for the past 17 yrs. They are a wonderful family in their community and have had to fight for anyone to realize the injustice that is continuing to take place in this horrific nightmare. The idiotic and unprofessional treatment that this family has been subjected to from all phases of an illinois justice system is beyond excuse. Please help bring a stronger urgency to the illinois justice system from all concerned citizens to bring this man to justice and answer for this horrific crime. That wonderful family and all their friends will never stop until this man answers for this crime. As a friend and concerned citizen, I want to thank you for not putting this ongoing tragedy to the side, yet bringing it to all so that we may rally around the Pacaccio family and let them know that they are not alone in their cry for justice. Please continue to put pressure on our illinois justice system to bring an end to this and allow this family the justice they and Tricia deserve. Thanks Dave.

  • Suzanne Pacaccio

    What a stupid thing to ask. Are you an idiot or a person with no feelings? I would say idiot or possibly both. This is a serious matter regarding a young woman who was brutally murdered 17 years ago outside her home and the grief her family has been going through since her death.. If you don’t have anything to post about this particular article and the severity of it, please go find your nerdy Harry Potter friends somewhere else. It’s very disrespectful to her family.
    Posted by Suzanne Pacaccio, Aunt to Tricia Pacaccio

  • Suzanne Pacaccio

    The above response was to a question which someone posted on this site. They asked if anyone had seen the new Harry Potter movie? Apparently it was removed which I am glad to see.

  • Jen A

    My heart goes out to the Pacaccio Family. I can not imaging having to go 17 years without justice for their daughter’s murder. Knowing that other murders could have been avoided if Gargiulo was arrested for Tricia’s murder is hard to understand. Someone needs to step up and put an end to this horrible situation for them. Let them have the closure they & Tricia deserve.

  • Kevin

    I have seen Rick suffer for many years of the loss of his only daughter. This Hollywood Ripper needs to face justice and pay dearly for the crimes he has committed in this life and hopefully in the next. Both Rick and Diane need some peace that this ordeal will come to an end.

  • More Critics Of Stalled ’93 Murder Investigation Come Forward « CBS Chicago – Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] is awaiting trial in California for brutally attacking one woman and killing two others. But California law enforcement officials say they believe Gargiulo’s first victim was Tricia Pacac…who was brutally stabbed to death in 1993 on the doorstep of her […]

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