Once Upon a Crime in Hollywood

Once Upon a Crime in Hollywood

Once Upon A Crime In Hollywood is a true crime podcast hosted by Kelly Hyman. The series focuses on some of Hollywood's most compelling cases with key experts and investigators involved in them. Season 2 focuses on The Hollywood Ripper story out of California and Illinois. Kelly explores the gruesome case of a serial killer that hunted his victims over 25 years. The investigation spanned multiple jurisdictions and took the work of four separate police agencies to bring the suspect to justice.

Episodes

March 15, 2024 47 mins
The Hollywood Ripper trial begins nearly 28 years after the murder of Tricia Pacaccio. Michael Gargiulo is on trial for the murders of Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno, as well as the attempted murder of Michelle Murphy. Due to California law allowing "prior bad acts" evidence to be introduced, prosecutors also detail the murder of Tricia Pacaccio to show a pattern of behavior and the eerie similarities between each of the attacks. M...
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The Hollywood Ripper trial shifts its focus to the two California murders - Ashley Ellerin and Maria Bruno. Ashton Kutcher, the most famous witness in the trial, takes the stand to detail the night he went to pick up Ellerin before she was found dead. Michael Gargiulo's defense team hammers Ellerin's former apartment manager about his version of events the night of her murder, and several of Ashley's friends speak about their inter...
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After Cook County's State's Attorney chose not to prosecute, Michael Gargiulo is once again a free man. He moves into an apartment in El Monte, California with his girlfriend, where a 32-year-old woman named Maria Bruno moves in across the complex. Less than two weeks after she moves in, Maria Bruno is killed. Her estranged husband, Irving, finds her stabbed, mutilated, and left for dead in her own bed, just hours after the two had...
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March 15, 2024 48 mins
With no suspects in Maria Bruno's murder, L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Detective Mark Lillienfeld continues the search. Michael Gargiulo marries, then moves to Santa Monica, California, with his wife. Across the alleyway, 26-year-old Michelle Murphy lived in an apartment nearby. One night, Murphy woke up with a man on top of her, stabbing her repeatedly with a knife. She manages to kick off the attacker, who cuts himself in the str...
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The Hollywood Ripper story begins in Glenview, Illinois - an unincorporated suburb of Cook County, where 18-year old Tricia Pacaccio was just finishing high school. Tricia attended a road rally with her friends, one of the last times they would get to see each other before leaving for college. When she returned home, she was attacked at her side doorstep and stabbed over a dozen times. Her father found her body the next day, and th...
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Seven years after Tricia Pacaccio's murder, Cook County's Sheriff's Office were now treating it as a cold case. A new investigative team submitted Tricia's fingernail clippings taken from the crime scene as DNA evidence, hoping to get a match. Meanwhile, Michael Gargiulo had moved to Hollywood, where he met 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who lived a few blocks from his house. After introducing himself as an air conditioning repair man...
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Cook County detectives are looking for Michael Gargiulo in California, and connect with L.A.P.D. homicide detective Tom Small to help locate him. Armed with a search warrant, detectives track him to an apartment listed under his girlfriend's name, and arrest him. They submit his DNA for testing and get a match with the DNA collected from Tricia Pacaccio's fingernail clippings. When the Cook County State's Attorney's office is prese...
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With Ronni Chasen's investigation officially closed, Beverly Hills Police would be challenged over the next several years to release over 200 pages of semi-redacted documents relating to the investigation. Those documents, reviewed by the Hollywood Reporter, show conflicting information about the evidence implicating Harold Smith, and call into question some of the police department's public statements over the course of the Chasen...
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With Beverly Hills Police all but wrapping up the investigation into Ronni Chasen's murder, media speculation continued about other possible theories, including a murder-for-hire and a rumored gambling debt involving Ronni's brother, Larry Cohen. The rest of Ronni's family drew the spotlight when a copy of her will was published by TMZ, putting scrutiny on who was a beneficiary of Ronni's death, and who wasn't. In Episode 5, we dis...
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The media frenzy continued in the aftermath of Harold Smith's fatal interaction with police at the Harvey Apartments. Beverly Hills Police requested the gun Harold Smith used to commit suicide to be turned over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Crime Laboratory for further testing. After announcing they had a "preliminary ballistics match" to the weapon that killed Ronni Chasen, Beverly Hills Police officially closed the case. In...
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The person of interest in Ronni Chasen's homicide, now identified as Harold Martin Smith, had a decorated criminal history, including armed robberies, and had spent considerable time in prison. In Episode 3, we discuss what we know about Harold Smith, his past, and how statements from Smith's neighbors at the Harvey Apartments ultimately shaped the narrative around his involvement in Ronni Chasen's murder.
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In their first update to the public, Beverly Hills Police called Ronni Chasen's murder a wide-open investigation and began serving search warrants at Chasen's apartment and business to collect evidence. Four days after her murder, the case made America’s Most Wanted, leading to an anonymous tip that would eventually pinpoint 43-year-old Harold Smith as a 'person of interest' in the investigation. In Episode 2, we discuss the first ...
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In the first episode of our six-part series, we examine the night Ronni Chasen was murdered in Beverly Hills. We discuss her life and career leading up to her final appearance on the red carpet and what we know about her last moments before her tragic death. Using crime scene photos and witness accounts, we revisit the location where Ronni's car crashed into a light pole on Whittier Drive and dissect the preliminary details availab...
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