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Tragic Cases: The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Facebook; Shutterstock (3); MEGA (4)

Dec. 19 2019, Published 4:43 p.m. ET

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RadarOnline.com is looking back at the most gruesome true crime stories of 2019: murders, missing moms, kidnappings and more.

Teenagers were kidnap and murder victims, mothers went missing and some were found dead, grandparents suffered immense tragedies and killers were finally brought to justice.

Teenager Tessa Majors was brutally murdered in a park in New York City in December, stabbed to death as she finished her first semester as a freshman at the elite Barnard College. Police have one 13-year-old in custody but are still searching for two others allegedly involved in the killing.

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Kidnap victim Jayme Closs was just 13 when her parents were gunned down and she was taken from her rural Wisconsin home. She was found alive in January. Her assailant, Jake Patterson, was arrested after she escaped from his home 88 days after she was snatched. A judge had harsh words for the 18-year-old killer as he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

UFC fighter Walt Harris' step-daughter, Aniah Haley Blanchard, disappeared in October in Alabama and her body was found weeks later.

A-list celebrity Ashton Kutcher took the stand in a case that is now nearly 20 years old. A woman he had dated in 2005 was murdered and police finally cracked the case, arresting Michael Gargiulo, nicknamed the "Hollywood Ripper," for Ashley Ellerin's and another woman's death. Kutcher arrived at Ellerin's apartment for a date on the day of her death, but she did not answer the door. Hours later, he learned of her murder.

Kutcher testified: "I thought it odd the lights were all on, I didn't want to be the guy looking through her window." He said the apartment looked messy. "Then I saw what I thought was red wine on the carpet," he said and admitted he left the home. He contacted police after he learned what happened to her, saying he was "freaking out," because his fingerprints were at the scene. He was never considered a suspect, police said.

Scroll through the gallery for the most gruesome true crime stories of 2019.

TESSA MAJORS

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock; Courtesy Tessa Majors/Instagram

Virginia native Tessa Majors, 18, was murdered in New York City on December 11, 2019. She was reportedly stabbed in the throat and chest during a botched robbery. She passed away from her wounds in the hospital. A 13-year-old boy was arrested on felony murder and robbery charges. He is not accused to committing the homicide. Two other suspects remained at large.

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SAM ANELLO

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Mike Derer/AP/Shutterstock; CBS

Salvatore "Sam" Anello was charged with the negligent homicide of his 18-month-old granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand. He was holding her up to the window of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Puerto Rico when she tumbled out of the open window, plunging to her death. The heartbroken grandpa told investigators and journalists that he thought the window was closed. Anello's attorney said he was offered a deal to plead guilty and serve no jail time, but his client did not wish to do so. Chole's parents have sued Royal Caribbean alleging that its negligence contributed to Chole's death.

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Ron Ely

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: MySpace; Shutterstock (2)

Tarzan star Ron Ely's wife, Valerie Ely, was stabbed to death in their Santa Barbara home by their son, Cameron Ely, on October 15, 2019. When police arrived on the scene, they confronted Cameron and he claimed he had a gun. RadarOnline.com obtained the gruesome police video of officers yelling at Cameron before shooting him 24 times. He died at the scene and after officials searched him for weapons they realized he was unarmed.

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Aniah Haley Blanchard

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: AP/Shutterstock; Auburn Police Department

UFC fighter Walt Harris' step-daughter, Aniah Haley Blanchard, disappeared in Alabama on October 23. She was last seen on surveillance video from a convenience store. Her car was located 55 miles away in which police said blood evidence was "indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury." Her body was found in November and Ibraheem Yazeed was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder.

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Hollywood Ripper

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Shutterstock (3)

Michael Gargiulo, dubbed the "Hollywood Ripper," was found guilty by a Los Angeles jury of the murder of Ashton Kutcher's ex-girlfriend and a mom of four. The actor testified during the trial about 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin's  2005 death which occurred on a night when they had a date. Kutcher showed up to her apartment but wasn't able to contact her and left, not knowing she was dead inside her home. Gargiulo also killed Maria Bruno in 2001. He is scheduled to be sentenced by a judge in 2020, though a jury recommended he receive the death penalty, arguing that Gargiulo "has led a life of crime and violence that has left a swath of death, grief and destruction behind him."

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Dwarf Con Woman

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Louise Turpin
The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: OWN; Tippecanoe County, Indiana (2)

Indiana parents Michael and Kristine Barnett were arrested and charged with abandonment after police claimed that they abandoned their young adopted daughter with dwarfism. The couple claimed that they adopted Natalia from Ukraine in 2010 believing she was an eight-year-old child, but they soon came to believe that she was actually an adult masquerading as a child. They say they helped her find an apartment on her own when they moved out of the country after they determined that she was at least 22. They are scheduled to go to trial in 2020.

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Simone Biles’s Brother

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Shutterstock; MEGA

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles' brother, Tevin Biles-Thomas, was arrested and charged with six counts of murder after allegedly shooting and killing three people at a New Year's Eve party in Cleveland, Ohio. She penned a heartfelt message after the news broke. "Still having a hard time processing last weeks sic news," she wrote. "My heart aches for everyone involved, especially for the victims and their families. There is nothing that I can say that will heal anyone's pain, but I do want to express my sincere condolences to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. I ask everyone to please respect my family's privacy as we deal with our pain."

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Jennifer Dulos

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: New Canaan Police Department; Shutterstock (2)

Connecticut mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos disappeared on May 24. Her ex-husband Fotis Dulos was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with her disappearance. He was not charged with murder even though his arrest warrant stated police "believed" Fotis was "lying in wait" at Jennifer's home and investigators "believe" he later drove away in her car, which was "carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos."

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Mackenzie Lueck

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Shutterstock (3)

College student Mackenzie Lueck disappeared in Utah after returning on a flight from Los Angeles. She was last seen on June 17 getting out of her Lyft driver's vehicle and into another car at 3 a.m. in a desolate Salt Lake City park. Lueck, 23, was found dead and a man named Ayoola Ajayi, 31, was charged with her murder. Her arms were tied and there was a hole in her head when her body was found in the Logan Canyon mountains. Ajayi's neighbors said they saw the suspect burning items in his backyard where Lueck's human tissue was later discovered.

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Savannah Spurlock

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Richmond Police Department

New mom Savannah Spurlock disappeared on January 4 after leaving The Other Bar in Lexington, Kentucky with three men. Security footage showed her walking away from the bar, but she was never heard from again. Her mother said they spoke on the phone that night.

Six months later, her body was found in a shallow grave in an "unnatural position," police said. A man named David Sparks was arrested and charged with her murder. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial on January 3, 2020.

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David And Louise Turpin

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: Shutterstock (2); MEGA

House of horror parents David and Louise Turpin were sentenced to 25 years to life, without the possibility of parole, for abusing 12 of their 13 children. The couple wept in court as the judge announced their fate on April 19, 2019 after the pleaded guilty to torturing the kids and keeping them locked up inside their Perris, California, home.

Two of their children spoke at the hearing. One of their adult daughters gave a victim's impact statement, telling the court: "My parents took my whole life from me but I'm taking it back." The monster parents cried as their daughter continued: "I'm going to college. Life may have been bad, but it made me strong. I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me. I'm a fighter, I'm strong."

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Jayme Closs

The Most Gruesome True Crime Stories Of 2019
Source: RadarOnline (2); Facebook

Jayme Closs' kidnapper was caught in January after murdering her parents and holding her captive for three months. Wisconsin native Jake Thomas Patterson, 21, was arrested for the heinous crimes after Closs, 13, escaped from the home where he held her hostage for 88 days. He gunned down James and Denise Closs in their rural home in October 2018 and a nationwide manhunt ensued. The teenager escaped and found help from a neighbor who dramatically called 9-1-1 to report that she had been located. Patterson admitted his guilt in the crimes as part of a plea deal and a judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. "There is no doubt in my mind you are one of the most dangerous people on this planet," the judge told Patterson during his sentencing. "I have no doubt that you have no regret and I have no doubt you have no remorse. You are the embodiment of evil."

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