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Thursday, July 7, 2011 —Nearly 18 years after the vicious stabbing death of a north suburban teenage girl, murder charges have been filed against a family friend who lived nearby.

Michael Gargiulo, 35, is charged with first degree murder for the stabbing death of Tricia Pacaccio. The 18-year-old was found by her father the morning of August 14, 1993. She had been stabbed 12 times and died on the steps to her home in unincorporated Northfield Township.

Gargiulo, who at the time lived a block away from the Pacaccios, is already incarcerated in California and awaiting trial for two homicides and an attempted murder there. In each case, the victims had been repeatedly stabbed.

Gargiulo has been a suspect in the Pacaccio case for years and in 2003, advances in DNA testing allowed investigators to determine that a small amount of his DNA was on her fingernails. What could not be determined, however, was whether that DNA had come from the casual contact he would have had by being in her home and around her.

Cook County Sheriff’s Police investigators spent years pursuing other evidence and leads and in May, the CBS News program “48 Hours” profiled the cold case. That resulted in two people coming forward to say Gargiulo had made self-incriminating statements to them about Tricia’s murder. The men, who worked with Gargiulo in California in the 1990s, said he told them he had stabbed a girl in Chicago and also said he had left her dead on the steps to her home. Detectives interviewed the witnesses, solidified the information and on Wednesday, a charge of first-degree murder was filed against Gargiulo.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart expressed his deep appreciation for the many sheriff’s police detectives who have worked the case over the last 18 years – most recently Det. Lou Sala, Det. Chris McGuire and Sgt. James Davis.

“Our detectives have been committed to this case and never once wavered in their belief that we would one day be able to bring justice to it,” Dart said. “It is our hope that those who knew and loved Tricia can find some measure of peace as a result of this.”

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