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.