Ashton Kutcher might seem like a happy-go-lucky sort of guy, but few people know about the catastrophic tragedy that devastated the star's early 20s as he was just beginning to rise to fame.
Back in 2001, Kutcher's casual girlfriend Ashley Ellerin was brutally stabbed to death by a serial killer in her own home and the young Kutcher came within a hair's breadth of discovering her body.
On the night of the murder, Ashely had called Kutcher to arrange a date, but the up-and-coming actor declined the offer. Later, after having a change of heart and being worried that his calls were going unanswered, Kutcher visited Ellerin's home behind the the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but there was no answer when he rang the doorbell.
Concerned that Ellerin's car was in the drive and all of the lights were on in house, Kutcher knocked on the window and called out his girlfriends name, but to no avail. When he peered into the house, the then 23-year-old Ashton saw what he thought was a puddle of red wine on the floor and assumed Ashley had been drinking and left.
Unbeknown to Ashton at the time, the puddle was in fact Ashely's blood and her body was lying on the floor just out of view. She'd been stabbed 47 times and court documents reveal that her killer:
Slashed Ms. Ellerin's throat so violently [he] nearly decapitated her
It was a small blessing for Kutcher that he didn't have to go through the trauma of discovering Ashley, because the deliberately staged scene that greeted him was enough to scar anyone for life. Court documents state that:
After she was murdered her body was left displayed in a... demeaning pose that was sexual in nature
Ashely's murderer, local air conditioning repairman Michael Thomas Gargiulo, was only arrested for his brutal crimes seven years later in 2008 when DNA evidence to link him to the murder was recovered from the apartment of another victim who survived his attack.
Nicknamed 'The Hollywood Ripper' by the media, Gargiulo is believed to a be a serial killer who has murdered at least 10 women with a sexual motive. Police profiles label him as:
a serial, psycho-sexual thrill killer who engages in the systematic slaughter of beautiful women because he takes sexual pleasure from manipulating, stabbing and killing his victims
Although Ashley Ellerin tragically lost her life 14 years ago, her murder is still playing a part in Kutcher's life today. Not only is he surely psychologically affected by the death, but he is also due to face the alleged killer when making a statement in court later this year.