Ashton Kutcher, new papa, ham-fisted tweeter, adulterer, tech mogul, Bears fan, has lived quite a life in his 36 years. His biography is full of interesting crannies. For instance: He dated January Jones. His favorite cigarette is the filtered Lucky Strike. He is a student of Jewish mysticism. He had a girlfriend who was murdered.
Vruuuuuup! What? Yes, Ashton loves women, and has had a steady stream of them, illicit and otherwise, in his life since he rose to pseudo-fame as a model in the late '90s. One of these women was Ashley Ellerin, a fashion student and part-time stripper who also dated Vin Diesel and Jeremy Sisto. In 2001, she was murdered by a serial killer while seeing Kutcher.
In fact, Kutcher was supposed to see Ellerin the night she was murdered, but when he went to her bungalow behind Grauman's Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatre), there was no answer at the door. He peered through the window and saw what he thought was spilled red wine. In fact, it was blood. Just out of his view was Ellerin's body, which had been stabbed 35 times, so violently that her head was nearly severed from her neck.
Kutcher and Ellerin met through a mutual friend—he was 23, she was 22. They were both seeing other people. L.A.'s hottest club was Moomba. People wore spaghetti straps. Ashton had not yet reached his prime. The whole thing was casual. It was a pre-9/11 world, after all. Safety and security were afterthoughts.
There was, however, a local handyman who haunted Ellerin's neighborhood, and who beneath his charming demeanor seemed to be hiding something sinister. His name was Michael Gargiulo. He had a thing for Ellerin. Always wanted to help her fix whatever needed to be fixed. Sometimes he showed up at Ellerin's house when nothing needed fixing.
On the night of the Grammys (U2's "Beautiful Day" would go on to win Best Song), Ellerin was hanging out with another lover, a Frasier bit actor who was also her landlord. After they separated, she made contact with Kutcher. Sometime after that, she met her death, and Kutcher's strange role in this tragic tale was thusly recorded. Via La Weekly:
A few minutes after Durbin left, Ellerin called Kutcher to ask him if she should come to his friend Kristy's to watch the Grammys. No, he told her, he would meet her at her bungalow later.
Kutcher, interviewed by detectives the day after Ellerin's slaying, said he called her twice that night but she didn't answer. He blamed bad reception and drove over at 10:45 p.m. Ellerin's lights were on and her maroon BMW was in the drive. He knocked several times, and when she didn't answer he peered through a front window.
Kutcher saw what he assumed to be red wine stains leading toward the bedroom. "He figured she was upset" because he was late, and "she brushed him off. So he left," testified LAPD Detective Thomas Shevolek.
It was a fortuitous error by the young actor, although he might not say so were he to comment on the terrible end that befell his beautiful date that night.
Had Kutcher discovered her gruesomely slashed body — sprawled in a hallway near the bathroom just out of his view — there is no way to know what would have become of the buoyant young man's life and career in the years to follow.
But Kutcher sensed nothing amiss. He got in his car and drove away.
Ellerin's roommate found her body the next morning.
Michael Gargiulo was arrested in 2008 and has been charged with Ellerin's death and those of two other women. Police believe he could be responsible for the slayings of up to ten women. He is awaiting trial in Los Angeles. Kutcher, who has rarely spoken publicly about Ellerin's death, is expected to testify.
"Remember When?" is a new series in which we remember things long forgotten.
[Pic via AP]