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Andrew Phillip CUNANAN





Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: His motivations remain a mystery
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: April-July 1997
Date of birth: August 31, 1969
Victims profile: Jeffrey Trail / David Madson / Lee Miglin, 72 / William Reese, 45 / Gianni Versace, 50
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Minnesota/Illinois/New Jersey/Florida, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself on July 23, 1997
photo gallery

Andrew Phillip Cunanan (August 31, 1969 – July 23, 1997) was an American spree killer who murdered at least five people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace, during a three-month period in 1997, ending with Cunanan's suicide, at age 27. On June 12, 1997, Cunanan became the 449th fugitive to be listed by the FBI on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

Early life

Cunanan was born in National City, California to Modesto Cunanan, a Filipino American, and Mary Anne Shilacci, an Italian American. He was the youngest of four children. Modesto Cunanan could not attend his son's birth, as he was serving in the US Navy in the Vietnam War at the time.

In 1981, his father enrolled him in The Bishop's School in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California. At school, Cunanan was remembered as being bright and very talkative, testing with an I.Q. of 147. As a teenager, he developed a reputation as a prolific liar, given to telling fantastic tales about his family and personal life; he was also adept at changing his appearance according to what he felt was most attractive at a given moment.

After graduating from high school in 1987, he enrolled at the University of California, San Diego, where he majored in American history. After graduating from UCSD, he settled in the Castro District of San Francisco. There, he frequented high-class gay bars and prostituted himself to wealthy older men.

When Cunanan was 19 his father deserted his family to avoid arrest for embezzlement. That same year his mother learned of Andrew's homosexuality. During the ensuing argument he threw her against a wall dislocating her shoulder.

Before the murders, Cunanan was involved in petty theft and drug dealing.


The first known murder was that of his friend Jeffrey Trail, a former US naval officer and propane salesman, on April 25, 1997, in Minneapolis. The next victim was architect David Madson, who was found on the east shore of Rush Lake near Rush City, Minnesota, on April 29, 1997, with gunshot wounds to the head. Police recognized a connection, as Trail's body had been found in Madson's Minneapolis loft apartment.

Cunanan next drove to Chicago and killed 72-year-old Lee Miglin, a prominent real estate developer, on May 4, 1997. Following this murder, the FBI added him to its Ten Most Wanted list. Five days later, Cunanan, who took Miglin's car, found his fourth victim in Pennsville, New Jersey, at the Finn's Point National Cemetery, killing 45-year-old caretaker William Reese. While the manhunt focused on Reese's truck, Cunanan "hid in plain sight" in Miami Beach, Florida, for two months between his fourth and fifth murders. He even used his own name to pawn a stolen item, knowing that police routinely check pawn shop records for stolen merchandise.

On July 15, 1997 Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace. A witness attempted to pursue him but could not catch him. The vehicle he used, including the clothes he had just been wearing, an alternative passport, and newspaper clippings of his murders was found in a nearby garage by the police who responded.

Eight days after murdering Versace, on July 23, 1997, Cunanan shot himself in the mouth in the upstairs bedroom aboard a Miami houseboat. He used the same gun he used to commit the other murders, a Taurus semi-automatic pistol in .40 S&W caliber which had been stolen from the first victim, Jeff Trail.


At the time of the crimes, there was much public and press speculation that Cunanan's motives were tied to a diagnosis of HIV infection; however, an autopsy found him to be HIV-negative.

Police searched the houseboat where Cunanan died in order to piece together a motive for his killing spree. However, Cunanan left behind few personal belongings, surprising investigators, given his reputation for acquiring money and expensive possessions from wealthy older men. Police considered few of the findings to be of note, except multiple tubes of hydrocortisone cream and a fairly extensive collection of the fiction of C.S. Lewis.

His motivations remain a mystery. Various theories include jealousy for Versace's role as a "gay icon", as well as necessity and opportunity in some of the other murders. Examination of his behavior from reports also indicate that he may have been a psychopath, a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy.


Andrew Cunanan

The intense fascination that psychotic killers can exert on the public imagination has rarely been demonstrated more strikingly than in the summer of 1997, when - during a few gripping weeks in July - a brash twenty-seven-year-old multi-murderer named Andrew Cunanan held the whole nation, and indeed much of the world, in thrall.

From a brazen but relatively obscure FBI fugitive, whose mug shot was familiar only to followers of the Bureau's "Ten Most-Wanted" list, Cunanan - in one shockingly savage act - became an overnight media obsession, his face suddenly featured on front pages and tabloid TV shows all across the country. His name seemed to be on everyone's lips, his snapshots on covers from Newsweek to the National Enquirer, while his shadowy presence was spotted by jittery witnesses in every contiguous state in the union.

Even after he came to his predictable bad end, he continued to preoccupy the public, partly because his motives remained so deeply enigmatic. His case thus raises tantalizing - and significant - questions, not only about the psychological sources of homicidal mania but also about the seemingly irresistible appeal that certain kinds of sensational crimes have for us. What makes a human time bomb like Cunanan tick? Why was the nation so enthralled by him? And why do some criminals - even those who perpetrate acts of extreme, sadistic violence - fail to grip the public's interest, while others achieve celebrity (sometimes even legendary) status?


Born on August 31, 1969, Andrew Phillip Cunanan grew up in Rancho Bernardo, California, an upscale suburb of San Diego. The youngest of four children, he possessed the kinds of qualities conducive to future success - a solid, highly literate intelligence; an outstanding (some say photographic) memory; an easy charm; clean-cut good looks. According to his mother, MaryAnn, her son read the Bible by the time he was six. Cunanan's father - a former navy man turned stockbroker - described his son as an "altar boy."

One characteristic that Cunanan most assuredly did not possess, however, was the virtue implied by his father's first name: Modesto. From his days at the elite Bishop's (prep) School in La Jolla, he behaved in a style that seemed, in part, a healthy (even admirable) display of gay pride, and partly a frantic bid for attention and notoriety.

Posing in one yearbook photo like a Calvin Klein model - white shirt unbuttoned to display his chiseled abs - and arriving at a school dance in a red patent-leather jumpsuit provided by his older male date, Cunanan seemed determined to live up to the title conferred on him by his classmates: "Most Likely Not to be Forgotten."

For a young man so hungry for distinction, it must have come as a devastating blow when his Filipino father - after reportedly being accused of scamming money from his clients - fled to Manila in 1988, plunging his family into hardship.

Cunanan, then nineteen and a freshman at the University of California at San Diego, dropped out of school to join his father but was soon back in the states, apparently appalled by the squalor in which Modesto was living.

By the early '90s, Cunanan had become a conspicuous, even flashy figure on the San Francisco gay scene. Assuming a variety of guises - Andrew Desilva, a Hollywood hotshot with a Riviera mansion; Lieutenant Commander Cummings, a naval officer and graduate of Choate and Yale - he dined at the toniest restaurants, dressed impeccably in blazers and ascots, puffed contraband Cohibas, and sipped only the finest champagne.

He was, by all accounts, extremely good company: a facile conversationalist, self-possessed, vivacious, and well informed. But even those who enjoyed socializing with him often perceived his behavior - his insistence on picking up the tab at every trendy eatery he patronized, for example - as a symptom of his lust for attention, a desperate need to show off, to prove that he was someone of stature.

In truth, far from being a person of any importance whatsoever, the unemployed Cunanan was entirely dependent on the largesse of others, who really did wield the power. Though his mother would later bitterly describe him as a "high-class male prostitute," Cunanan was actually more of a male mistress or giggolo - the kept companion of a succession of older gay men who would lavish clothes, cars, money, and gifts on him.

What made Cunanan so appealing wasn't his appearance (as various acquaintances would attest, on the conventional 10-scale of physical attractiveness, Cunanan rated a 5) so much as his personality, intelligence, and social skills. And also - reportedly - his taste for kinky sex: his apparently riveting combination of preppie polish and S&M abandon.

By the fall of 1996, however, something - no one knows or may ever know exactly what - caused Cunanan's glitzy world to come apart. Some former acquaintances have hinted that the problem involved drugs; others point to a crisis in his relationship with his last benefactor, an elderly arts patron who abruptly dumped him.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: the hedonistic, status-crazed Cunanan went, more or less overnight, from a life of extreme comfort and glamour - driving a brand-new Infiniti, living luxuriously in his gentleman-friend's oceanfront home, spending his $2,500 monthly allowance on expensive clothes, fancy food, 10-inch Havanas, and Veuve Clicquot champagne - to a sordid, desperate existence.

Always obsessive about his appearance, he let himself go to seed, giving up jogging, putting on weight, showing up at his old haunts looking despondent and disheveled. He moaned about his loneliness - complained to bartenders that he couldn't even "get a date."

There had been only one "perfect" relationship in his life, he told a friend - a handsome Minneapolis architect named David Madson. But Madson had been trying to distance himself from Cunanan, reportedly because Cunanan - to make ends meet after being ditched by his sugar daddy - had begun peddling drugs (and, according to rumor, consuming them in increasing quantities.)

In mid-April, Cunanan told acquaintances that he was moving to San Francisco. At his farewell party at a chic San Diego restaurant, he dined on beef tenderloin, ostrich, and trout. Shortly thereafter - having persuaded his credit-card company to allow one more purchase on his overextended card - he bought a one-way, first-class airline ticket.

But not to San Francisco.

He was on his way to Minneapolis - to "settle some business," as he confided to a friend.


It is doubtful that we will ever know the precise details of the terrible crimes that transpired between April 27 and May 1, 1997. Only three people were involved - and none is alive to tell the tale.

What we do know is this:

On the night Cunanan arrived in Minneapolis, Madson took him out to dinner and introduced him to friends. Some of these were dazzled by Cunanan's charm; others considered him a pompous, name-dropping egomaniac.

Two nights later - on April 27 - Cunanan invited a twenty-eight-year-old friend named Jeffrey Trail over to Madson's loft apartment in a trendy warehouse. There have been conflicting accounts of Trail's relationship with Cunanan. Some have described Trail - a former San Diego navy officer who had moved to Minnesota in November, 1996, to take a job with a propane-gas company - as a "straight arrow" who played the part of a "big brother" in Cunanan's life. Others have suggested that the two men were onetime lovers and that Trail had subsequently become sexually involved with David Madson.

Depending on which of these situations is true, the events that followed may well have been precipitated by one of two causes. According to one theory, Trail had antagonized the increasingly unstable Cunanan by expressing his intense disapproval of Cunanan's drug use. This led to a violent falling -out between the two men. The alternate theory holds that Cunanan was sent into a jealous frenzy by Trail's affair with Madson.

Whatever the case, we do know that just before ten p.m. on April 27, some neighbors of Madson's heard violent shouting coming from his place, followed by several loud thuds.

Two days later, police found Jeff Trail's body rolled up in a carpet in Madson's apartment. He had been bludgeoned to death with over two dozen savage hammer blows to the face and head.

Two days after this grisly discovery, on Thursday, May 1, Cunanan drove with Dave Madson to a lake about fifty miles north of Minneapolis and there - using Jeff Trail's handgun - pumped several .40-caliber Golden Saver bullets into the head of the man he had once described as "the love of my life."

By the time a fisherman stumbled on Madson's corpse, Cunanan was long gone, having fled southeast in the victim's red Jeep. He next turned up in Chicago, where he somehow gained entrance to the home of a seventy-two-year-old real-estate mogul named Lee Miglin. There is no evidence that Cunanan had every met, let alone had a personal relationship with, the older man - though he may have known Miglin by name. What Cunanan needed from the millionaire developer was cash, a change of clothes, and a new getaway car.

For reasons unknown - beyond the rampaging homicidal frenzy that now had Cunanan in its grip - he subjected Miglin to a horrific form of torture, wrapping the victim's head in duct tape with breathing space at the nose, then stabbing him repeatedly with pruning shears before cutting open his throat with a gardening saw.

Heading eastward in Miglin's green 1994 Lexus, Cunanan next killed a forty-five-year-old cemetery caretaker named William Resse in Pennsville, New Jersey, shooting the victim in the head with the same .40-caliber pistol he had used to slay Madson, then making off in Reese's red 1995 Chevy pickup. The date was Friday, May 9.

In less than two weeks, the onetime party boy had brutally murdered four men in a cross-country odyssey of death.


With the killing of Reese, Cunanan earned a spot on the FBI's "Ten Most-Wanted" list. New reports about the "darkly handsome Californian" who "might be the country's latest serial killer" appeared from coast to coast, though rarely as the lead story (the May 14 edition of The New York Times, for example, relegated it to page 12).

Cunanan - who had displayed a lifelong craving for attention that bordered on the pathological - now had his mug shot plastered on wanted posters throughout the U.S. and was featured four times on the TV show America's Most Wanted. Still, he hadn't made it to the heights (or depths) occupied by the true celebrity psychos of the modern era: Bundy, Berkowitz, Dahmer, and DeSalvo.

That notorious accomplishment still lay two months in the future.

In the meantime, Cunanan made his way southward, stopping odd briefly in New York City, stealing a license plate in South Carolina, and then arriving at his ultimate destination - Miami Beach, where he checked into a down-at-the-heels hotel called the Normandy Plaza on May 12.

For two months, Cunanan left his room mainly at night to hit the glitzy gay clubs of South Beach. During the days, he holed up in his room, subsisting largely on takeout pizza and subs, and whiling away his time with TV, fashion magazines, and S&M pornography.

In early June, he moved his red pickup truck to a South Beach parking garage - just two blocks away from the palatial residence known as Casa Casuarina, owned by the celebrated fashion designer Gianni Versace.

During a stopover on his way to Cuba in 1991, Versace had fallen in love with South Beach, a fifteen-block stretch of Art Deco hotels and sidewalk cafes facing the oceanfront. Not long afterward, he purchased a pair of run-down Ocean Drive buildings and spent $35 million to renovate them into his spectacular residence.

The presence of the ultraglamorous designer had a galvanizing effect on the seedy neighborhood, instantly transforming it into a chic, trendy enclave. Though Versace owned equally spectacular homes in other locales - a magnificent East Side town house in Manhattan, a seventeenth-century palazzo in Milan, a seventeen-room villa on Lake Como - the Ocean Drive mansion occupied a special place in his heart, partly (and ironically) because he felt so safe and free in the neighborhood. He dismissed his bodyguards, unplugged the mansion's security system, and moved around as casually as any unremarkable mortal.

At around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14, Versace - following his usual morning routine - left Casa Casuarina and strolled a few blocks away to the News Café, where he purchased coffee and a handful of magazines. A few minutes later, he was back home. As he was opening the ornate wrought-iron gates to his Mediterranean-style mansion, a young man in a white shirt, gray shorts, and black backpack strode up and shot the fifty- year-old Versace twice in the head with a .40-caliber pistol.

As Versace collapsed onto the stone steps of his palazzo, his companion, Antonio D'Amico, rushed outside and pursued the assassin, who suddenly swung around, aimed his gun at D'Amico, and waved him away without firing. Then the killer dashed into a nearby parking garage.

It was there that police investigators found the red Chevy pickup that had been stolen from the slain New Jersey cemetery worker, William Reese. Inside the truck were the bloody clothes worn by Versace's killer and a U.S. passport in the name of Andrew Phillip Cunanan.


The news of Versace's assassination sent shock waves around the world. But that shock turned into something like mass hysteria when authorities revealed that the prime suspect was the same "gay serial killer" already sought in four other murders throughout the U.S.

While his family, fans, and seemingly limitless circle of superstar friends mourned Versace's death - and tourists by the busload arrived at the Casa Casuarina to snap souvenir photos of the bloodstained steps where he had fallen - Andrew Cunanan became the most frenetically publicized psycho killer since Jeffrey Dahmer.

His face became a front-page fixture on newspapers throughout the country and was blazoned on the covers of magazines from Newsweek to People. TV stations and radio talk shows devoted countless hours to the story. Rumors about the reportedly "cunning, brazen, Jekyll-Hyde" killer abounded: He was taunting the police, playing cat-and-mouse with the authorities. He had purchased female clothing so he could disguise himself in drag. He was taking revenge on people he suspected of having given him AIDS.

Meanwhile, a mammoth manhunt - one of the largest in Florida, if not U.S., history - was launched. But Cunanan remained maddeningly elusive. In the popular imagination, he was quickly transformed into a figure of almost mythic proportions: a shadowy, demonically cunning, cross-dressing serial killer whose ability to outsmart the police seemed nothing short of preternatural.

Among criminologists and other experts, however, there quickly arose one hotly debated issue: Could Cunanan be considered a serial killer at all? On one side stood those like John Douglas (former FBI agent, best-selling author, and reputed inspiration for the Jack Crawford character in Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs), who argued that Cunanan absolutely "fit the classic profile of a sexually predatory killer."

On the other side were people like Douglas's former colleague Robert Ressler - the man who coined the term "serial killer" - who insisted that the "people who are calling [Cunanan] a serial killer are grossly misinformed." The profile that Cunanan fit, according to Ressler, was that of the classic Spree killer.

My own position conforms closely to Ressler's. The term "serial killer" was coined to describe lifelong sexual psychopaths like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, et al. To all external appearances, such men lead perfectly normal, even crushingly dull lives - while simultaneously conducting secret careers of unimaginable violence and sadism.

They begin to demonstrate their twisted proclivities at an early age, by torturing small animals, practicing juvenile pyromania, etc. As they grow older and embark on their adult crimes, they tend to be obsessed with a particular type of victim (for example - as in the case of David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz - young women with long brown hair, parted in the middle) and to commit their atrocities in highly repetitive, ritualistic ways.

And, as a general rule, they do their best to remain anonymous. They do not want to be stopped, because they get such intense, perverted satisfaction from what they are doing. The public knows that a serial killer is at large when the dismembered corpses start piling up. But they don't know who the killer is, leading the media to come up with catchy nicknames: "The Nightstalker," "The Hillside Strangler," "The Zodiac Killer."

With one exception - the sadistic nature of the Miglin murder - almost nothing about Cunanan's behavior fits this profile. Until the slaying of Jeff Trail - whose savagery makes it seem like a classic crime of passion, not an act of sadistic, ritualistic lust-murder - Cunanan had rarely displayed any particularly violent tendencies. Apart from their common gender, his victims differed in every way, as did his methods of dispatching them.

Some of the murders - Reese's, for example, and probably Miglin's - were purely opportunistic, perpetrated because Cunanan needed transportation and money. And far from trying - or even wanting - to remain anonymous, Cunanan was known to the police and public from the very start.

Indeed, he left a trail of clues that a blind man could follow (not far from Jeff Trail's corpse, for example, police not only found the bloody murder weapon but a gym bag monogrammed with Cunanan's name and containing an empty holster and a used box of .40-caliber Gold Saber bullets). There has certainly never been a serial killer in history whose face has been on the nightly news while he was still at large.

In short, Cunanan falls into the category of the reckless, rampaging spree killer, who is sent over the edge by some extreme personal crisis and goes off on a wildly destructive, often far-ranging reign of terror that leave a variety of victims in its wake: some of them deliberate targets against whom the killer has some kind of grudge, others who are just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the days following Versace's murder, deciding what category of criminal psychopathology Cunanan conformed to was more than just an academic exercise, or a way of filling up time on TV talk shows. There are important psychological differences between the serial sex-murderer and the spree killer (whose emotional state is much closer to that of the Mass Murderer). Identifying Cunanan as a spree killer made it possible to predict, if not his next move, then at least his final one - for the essential fact about spree murder is that it is, ultimately, a form of suicide.


Though the public quickly demonized Cunanan, endowing him with almost supernatural powers of both omnipotence and omnipresence (countless Cunanan sightings poured in from every state, except Alaska and Hawaii), his ability to elude capture had more to do with police blunders and bad luck than with any particular cunning of his own.

On the evening of Friday, July 11, for example - four days before the Versace killing - a cashier at a Miami sandwich shop recognized Cunanan, whose face he had seen on America's Most Wanted. Before handing Cunanan his tuna sub, the cashier excused himself for a moment and hurried off to dial 911.

While he was talking to the police operator, however, another cashier - who didn't recognize Cunanan and thought he was simply a customer waiting for his order - handed him his sandwich. Cunanan strolled out and vanished minutes before the cops showed up.

Just five days earlier, Cunanan - who was evidently strapped for cash - pawned a gold coin he had stolen from Lee Miglin. To complete the transaction, he was required not only to fill out an official form (on which he wrote his actual name and the address of the Normandy Hotel) but also to leave a thumbprint, which he did without hesitation. This was not the behavior of a diabolically cunning killer bent on eluding capture.

The diagnosis of Cunanan as a spree killer whose rampage was likely to climax with his own death - either by his own hand or in a shoot-out with authorities ("suicide by cop," in law enforcement parlance) was confirmed on Wednesday, July 25. On that afternoon, Fernando Carreira - the seventy-one-year-old caretaker of a double-decker houseboat docked in a marina only forty blocks away from the site of Versace's murder - entered the vessel and found evidence of an intruder. As he hurried outside to call the police, Carreira heard a single shot.

Within minutes, police had sealed off the area, and heavily armed, specially trained forces surrounded the houseboat. After nearly five tense hours of watching and waiting, they finally fired tear-gas canisters into the house and shouted "Come out! Come out!" The boat remained deadly silent. A few minutes later, at around 9 p.m. SWAT-team members entered the boat.

There, sprawled face up on a bed, they found Cunanan, dressed only in boxer shorts. He had shot himself in the mouth with the .40-caliber handgun that lay on his stomach.

Far from being a master of criminal cunning, moving about with impunity while the world staged a fruitless manhunt, Cunanan had apparently been holing up in two houseboats for more than a week, not even daring to venture outside for food. In the end, knowing there was no escape, he took the route typically followed by spree killers: self-destruction.


With his almost foreordained suicide, Cunanan left a host of lingering mysteries, which may never be answered in any definitive way. Still, he also left enough clues to offer an informed guess about his motives.

An essential fact about spree killers is that they are deeply embittered men, full of barely suppressed rage and resentment, whose lives suddenly fall apart. Sometimes, they are jilted by a lover. At other times, they are fired from a job. Whatever the crisis that sends them plummeting over the edge, they are people for whom life has become an unendurable nightmare - a living horror.

Death offers the only escape, and they are determined to go out with a bang. But before they do, they intend to settle scores, to take other people with them - to wreak vengeance on the world by inflicting some of its horror on others.

It's easy to see how Cunanan could have reached the point where his glitzy but excruciatingly empty existence finally turned unbearable. Sigmund Freud once said that the two requirements for a fulfilling, meaningful life are "Lieben und Arbeiten" - love and work. Cunanan, a person of much promise in his youth, had neither. His relationships appeared to be purely superficial and sexually exploitive, and his primary source of income was the money his sugar daddies were willing to dole out for his affable companionship and kinky favors.

His desperate need to show the world that he was someone was undoubtedly a way of compensating for the opposite realization - that he was nothing more than a costly plaything, a man without any real power or status. When Cunanan was dumped by his final benefactor, the desperate nothingness of his life - no career, no love, no accomplishments - must have been brought home to him with crushing force. At twenty-seven, he wasn't getting any younger and was even beginning to lose some of the appeal that his high-flying lifestyle depended on.

In short, Cunanan appeared to have reached the end of his tether. When it finally snapped - when, in a frenzy of jealousy or possibly drug-fueled rage, he lost control and murdered Jeff Trail - he knew that his life was effectively over, and he ran rampant, taking some lives for revenge, others simply for convenience.

In the context of Cunanan's pathology, his targeting of Versace makes perfect sense. Thought published reports indicate that the two men had encountered one another at a post-opera party in San Francisco, it seems unlikely that they had any kind of relationship. Cunanan's rage against Versace undoubtedly stemmed from symbolic, not personal, motives.

To Cunanan, Versace would have embodied everything Cunanan so desperately coveted and knew he would never attain - glamour and worldwide celebrity. (It is also possible that the fifty-year-old Versace represented, in Cunanan's unconscious, all the rich older gay men who had used him in their lives.)

In his unleashed rage and insane resentment, Cunanan would get his revenge on the world, and also prove, once and for all, that he was someone special - a person to be reckoned with, a man with the ultimate power: the power of life and death over another. He would finally get his picture on the covers of national magazines and fulfill the destiny his prep school classmates had foreseen: as the fellow student "Most Likely Not to Be Forgotten."

There is one final factor to be considered: the issue of Cunanan's homosexuality. Clearly, this is a sensitive subject, particularly for many members of the gay community, who had justifiable fears that Cunanan would be received in light of negative gay stereotypes.

For the most part, Cunanan's sexual orientation has absolutely no bearing on the case. To be sure, the glamorous world of wealthy "A-List" gays was the milieu he frequently moved in and that Versace so glitteringly epitomized. But homosexuality per se clearly had nothing to do with his psychopathology. What drove Cunanan to murder appears to have been some highly combustible mix of rage, resentment, and his terrible sense of failure and powerlessness - in short, the same essential ingredients that have fueled the rampages of notorious heterosexual spree killers, like Charles Starkweather and Paul John Knowles.

If Cunanan's gay life-style has any bearing at all, it may have more to do with the cultural fascination he exerted. People have always found something deeply enthralling about sensational killers. They turn all of us into children again, instilling a kind of deliciously exciting terror at the notion that a big, scary monster is somewhere on the loose.

But not every psycho killer becomes the object of a national obsession. The ones who do - Charles Manson, for example, or Ted Bundy - often achieve that status because they reflect certain characteristics of their time. In our own age of celebrity obsession, trendy transvestitism, and bisexual chic, Cunanan - the gender-bending, celebrity-stalking killer - served as a deeply compelling reflection of certain currents running though our country, a dark mirror of our cultural soul.



Jeffrey Trail, 27 april 1997

"Neighbors in the building heard loud voices, an argument, something about 'Get the fuck out,'.... Trail was bludgeoned furiously with a claw hammer between 25 and 30 times, mostly on his head and face. Initially, he mounted a fierce defense. His watch was frozen still at 9:55 p.m., the time police believe he thrust his arms up against the attack. ... Police do know that the hammer came from an open tool box in the apartment. It must have been grabbed spontaneously, meaning Trail's killing was not premeditated. ... Cunanan may then have used the gun to coerce Madson into helping him roll the fully clothed corpse into a large living room rug. They also believe there was a plan to dispose of the rug, but that never came to pass. Instead, for most of the next two days Madson and Cunanan remained holed up there with the body. No efforts were made to clean up the bloody mess. ... April 29, police entered the apartment and found the body and the dog inside. ... recovered were Cunanan's duffel bag and a single pair of bloody Levis (38-inch waist)." [France, Out]

"Inside they found an empty handgun holster and a box of .40-caliber Golden Saber bullets. Ten bullets were missing." [Suro & Russakoff, The Washington Post)

"Cunanan grabs a hammer, perhaps from the open red toolbox later found on the dining-room table just a couple of feet from the door. He swings. The hammer gashes into Trail's left forearm at least three times as he deflects the blows. ... Madson's door is open. Cunanan swings and misses, leaving a crescent-shaped dent in the wall next to the door. At least one blow connects with Trail's skull. A single drop of Trail's blood flies directly across the hall and hits the wall. Brain matter hits the inner frame of the door. The door slams shut. Trail's battered body crumples onto an Oriental-style rug just inside the door. Cunanan stoops over his dying friend, raining blow after blow after blow on his head. In all, Trail is struck 27 times." [Walsh & Graves, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"Cunanan is covered in blood -- his face, his white Banana Republic T-shirt and his blue baseball cap. ... The body, with Trail's wallet still tucked in his back pocket and his pager clipped to his belt, is rolled up in the rug. It's dragged 10 feet across the hardwood floor and left behind Madson's brown leather sofa. Two rolls from a six-pack of Brawny paper towels are used to mop up some of the blood, as are towels and a Navy T-shirt identical to the one Trail is wearing under his blue-and-white checked flannel shirt. The items are stuffed into a plastic drawstring bag, along with Trail's broken watch, a gold ring and the hammer. Cunanan leaves bare footprints in Trail's blood. But no paw prints are left in the blood, and no one hears barking. Prints barks at everything. If Prints isn't there, it's doubtful that Madson is either." [Walsh & Graves, Mineapolis Star Tribune)

David Madson, 2 may 1997

"David Madson was shot near a Minnesota lake, 50 miles away. One bullet had pierce his back and another had grazed his cheek. But the one that killed him had entered through his eye, at close range and had passed clear through his head. There was no sign of a struggle." [France]

"The Chisago County autopsy report said Madson was shot three times along the shore of East Rush Lake, one in the back, once in the face and once in the side of the head. The architect also had defensive wounds on his fingers. All the bullet wounds were from the same .40-caliber handgun later used to kill Reese, a New Jersey cemetery caretaker, and Versace." [Associated Press]

"...[T]wo fisherman discovered Madson's body on the grassy shore of East Rush Lake, about 40 miles from Minneapolis. Madson had been shot three times with a 10mm semiautomatic, and his red Jeep Cherokee was missing." [Suro & Russakoff, The Washington Post)

"He was shot three times -- between the shoulder blades, across the right cheek and through the right eye -- with a .40-caliber handgun. His body was dragged into tall weeds and left near the water's edge. The body showed few signs of decomposition, suggesting to investigators that Madson had spent substantial time with Cunanan before he was killed sometime between late Thursday and early Saturday morning. ... Dr. Lindsey Thomas, who performed Madson's autopsy, said a test that determined potassium levels in Madson's eye fluid shows he probably was killed four to six days before his body was found. ... There had been several reported sightings of Cunanan and Madson on Friday: driving north on Interstate Hwy. 35, eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer in a Rush City bar. None were confirmed. Thomas said she found no food in Madson's stomach; a large meal would take three to six hours to fully digest. Those things coupled with the potassium test, she said, make it improbable that Madson ate that meal or was still alive Friday. ... In an attempt to further narrow Madson's time of death, Chisago County officials have hired a forensic entomologist to study fly larvae found in Madson's mouth. The Madson family said preliminary results of those tests are expected soon. But Thomas said it's nearly impossible for any onetest to pinpoint time of death. [Walsh & Graves, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Lee Miglin, 4 may 1997

"It is believed that Cunanan took sport in the torturing of Miglin. He wrapped his head in masking tape, leaving small holes for breathing. He plunged a pair of pruning shears into the man's chest and slit his throat with a gardener's bow saw -- "a worse death than Christ," was how Miglin's 96-year-old mother described it." [France, Out]

"...Miglin's body, wrapped in duct tape with space left at his nose so he could breathe, had been found under a car in the garage of his Gold Coast home. His killer had stabbed him with pruning shears, then sawed through his throat with a gardening saw. The killer had also nibbled on some ham and an apple, then made off with Miglin's green 1994 Lexus." (Lacayo, Time)

"Police discovered the body of Miglin least partially covered in paper or other debris in the rear of a detached garage behind his home on East Scott Street early Sunday. ... Early reports suggested Marilyn Miglin called police after discovering a gun that did not belong to the family in the couple's three-story home, and after failing to locate her husband. Police, however, refused to say exactly what prompted the Sunday morning emergency call that brought them to the house sometime after 8 a.m. There, they discovered the victim with his throat slashed, perhaps by a gardening instrument found in the garage, according to police sources, who estimated that Miglin was killed between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. His face was wrapped in a plastic bag fastened around his neck with masking tape, his feet apparently were bound and the left half of his body was tucked under the front end of a car parked in the garage." (Ferkenhoff and Bukro, Chicago Tribune)

"Someone cut his throat with a gardening saw.  Someone punctured his chest dozens of times with gardening clippers. Someone wrapped his head with masking tape -- two breathing holes left at the nostrils. Someone ran him over five times with his own car, a green 1994 Lexus. That someone, police say, is Cunanan." (Merzer, Detrit Free Press)

"The first jurisdiction to charge Cunanan with murder closed its case on Thursday and released an investigative file.... The file also includes the autopsy report on Miglin, a Chicago real estate developer, believed to be Cunanan's third victim. It documents 49 separate injuries to Miglin, including 19 blows to his head and face. 'All of that demonstrates the rage Cunanan had to be experiencing at the time he killed Mr. Miglin,' Reuter said." (Associated Press)

"Miglin was stabbed twice through the heart with a screwdriver. His head was nearly severed with a garden saw. Every rib was broken, apparently after he was run over by a car in the garage. Recently released police files from Miami Beach indicate that Miglin was already dead by noon Saturday...." [Walsh & Graves, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

William Reese, 9 may 1997

"There was no such drama in the shooting of caretaker William Reese, 45, in an isolated national cemetary in Pennsville, N.J." [France, Out]

"State park employees told police and the FBI that they saw a man fitting Cunanan's description lying on the grass in the park on the afternoon of May 9, several hours before William Reese, the cemetery's caretaker, was murdered in his office. The remote, five-acre cemetery has almost no traffic because most of its graves hold bodies from the Civil War era.... Cunanan may have been watching Reese because it appears that the caretaker had just finished work at the time he was murdered. Investigators said he was killed with a shot to the head from the same 10mm semiautomatic used to kill Madson" (Suro & Russakoff, The Washington Post)

"Sometime between 4:30 and 6:15 p.m, Cunanan marched cemetery caretaker William Reese down the basement stairs of the Finn's Point National Cemetery office and forced him to his hands and knees. He shot him once through the back of the head. The bullet, a .40-caliber Golden Saber hollow point, was the same kind that killed Madson." (Walsh & Graves, The Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Gianni Versace, 15 july 1997

"On his return to the house, just as he was opening the ornate wrought-iron gate, Versace was approached suddenly by a white man in his mid-20s. Some witnesses described an ambush-style killing in which the attacker pumped one bullet into Versace's head from behind, then another as he fell to the ground. But two other witnesses, who were later questioned by FBI agents, have told TIME that first Versace appeared to struggle briefly with his attacker over a bag. ... At the sound of the gunfire, meanwhile, Versace's companion D'Amico had rushed from inside the house to find the designer face up on the pavement in a spreading pool of his own blood. At the University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, doctors declared him dead. Ballistics tests later found that the gun that killed Versace was the same one that had killed two of the earlier victims. " (Lacayo, Time)

"Just before 9 a.m. a gunman walked up behind Versace as he attempted to open his front gate. The gunman fired two bullets into the back of the designer's head, then fled. Versace, fatally wounded, lay in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. His sunglasses, sandals and wallet lay untouched at his side. casings found near Versace's body were similar to those found at the scene of another slaying Cunanan is suspected of committing in Minnesota." (Chicago Tribune)

"Gianni Versace may have seen his killer because only one of two bullets fired into the designer last month entered from the back of his head, the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reported. One of the two .40-caliber bullets that killed Versace entered through his left cheek and not through the back of his head as first thought. The bullet was likely fired from a gun pressed against Versace's cheek, the newspaper reported Thursday, citing information from the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office." (Associated Press)

"'The shooter fired twice, striking the victim once in the center of his face to the right of his nose, and once in the left side of his neck just below the left ear,' according to one police report. 'The neck shot was through and through. The victim was initially found crumpled on the ground more or less on his right side.'" [Staff writers,The Miami Herald)

"The bullet entered just above Versace's mouth and to the left of his nose, leaving a gaping wound. ... At first, doctors, police and witnesses were under the impression that Versace's facial injury was an exit wound. Rushed to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he was pronounced dead and it was announced by hospital staff that he had been shot twice in the back of the head. But the autopsy showed the damage was done by the entry of a bullet. The disfiguring of his victims' faces was a Cunanan trademark, and one that many serial killers employ, according to retired FBI agent Peter Smerick. ''It's a way to dehumanize the victims and it also shows a rage-filled, angry killing,'' said Smerick, a one-time profiler for the FBI. Cunanan's first victim, Jeffrey Trail, a former best friend, was bludgened to death and left unrecognizable. His second victim, former lover David Madson, was shot in the head rolled into a carpet, his face totally covered. The third victim, Chicago businessman Lee Miglin, had his head taped like that of a mummy." (Yanez, The Sun-Sentinel)

"One witness, Evan Gray Gertz, told police that Cunanan apparently was waiting for Versace that morning, sitting in the grass on the beach side of Ocean Drive across from the mansion. Gertz said Cunanan crossed the street to the residence as his victim approached. Gertz did not see the shooting, but remembered that Cunanan 'did not walk with a natural sway of both arms . . . his right arm was fully extended and stationary at his side.' Other witnesses picked up the story, saying Cunanan sped up the steps to reach Versace, and fired just after the designer had placed his key in the lock." [Staff writers, The Miami Herald)

     "I recognized that it was Versace but I wasn't sure because he was dressed very casual. ... He was walking a little bit faster than a normal pace. ... I looked at [Versace] and from his feet, from his sandals and up to his eyes; when I saw that it was him, he saw that I recognized him, he smiled at me. I smiled. He changed directions. He shifted diagonally going towards the steps of his villa. At that moment I saw a person, a guy, very close to the villa walk who had already entered from Eleventh.... I thought it was one of Gianni Versace's admirers or someone who knew him because he sped up to reach Versace. At that moment I turned around to look at Versace one last time. The guy had already reached Versace on the steps. It was the moment he was reaching from his back he pointed his gun with his arm very stretched out as Versace was placing or trying to place his key in the lock....
     "He couldn't even turn around. And the murderer was behind his shoulders. ... I remember Versace couldn't turn. It was here and he was blocked but it was from behind, it was maybe this point right here... He was touching. [The second shot was] immediately right after the first. Two dry shots. There was no smoke. There was nothing. It was a precise shot.
     "The murderer came, walked backwards from the steps. He placed his gun in the bag which was open and he continued on his way down to the street as if nothing had happened. Very calm. He had a Donald Duck walk, like so [...with his feet pointing outwards].
     "Some people came out of the house.... He was halfway down the street almost towards the end of the empty lot. Because he was walking very slowly.... They saw what had happened. And the blond guy asked who did that... And I said, 'That guy there.' The blond guy... began to run right away. Then I looked at Versace, blood started coming out. Guys were crying. Then I saw the blond guy came back.
     "I only saw his right arm and he had white skin, nothing strange.... it could have been tan.... He didn't have a build of someone who was sporty, he had a normal build. A black basetball cap. Worn down over his eyes. I didn't even see his nose.... he was clean-cut. He didn't even have a beard.... He had a T-shirt on... like a basketball players... short pants... sandals ... [5'6"?] A bit taller [5'7", 5'8"?] Yes, a bit taller.... I just know that he placed the gun in a bag, but it whether it was a backpack or a bag here, I don't know.... [The gun was] black... it wasn't shiny... rectangular. I thought it was a joke or a game. The shots came pretty close.... Like this: Tatt, tatt, this....No blood came out from his head, nothing.... After, that is why I couldn't believe it was something." [Colakovic,Miami Herald)

Andrew Phillip Cunanan, 23 july 1997

"Upstairs in the master bedroom, they found a man wearing only boxer shorts lying face up on the bed. On his stomach, a .40 caliber gun. The man had what looked like a week's growth of beard. He had shot himself in the mouth." ["Biography This Week," A&E Channel]

"His body lay lifeless in the houseboat, the revolver by his groin. As for his face, one source said it still bore a resemblance to the photos in his wanted posters." [Chua-Eoan, Time]

"SWAT team members who stormed the houseboat late Wednesday found Cunanan's body on the bed in the upstairs master bedroom, the affidavit said. Large amounts of blood were seen coming from the suspect's ears, mouth and nose and he had a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun lying on his groin. The Dade County Medical Examiner Department said Cunanan shot himself in the mouth." [Associated Press)

"Bloody bandages, cotton swabs, gauze pads and penicillin pills were among the items found on the houseboat in Miami Beach where Cunanan ended his life with a gunshot to the head on July 23. 'I believe he did have a wound on his stomach, and he was treating himself with the medical supplies found on board,' Anne Figueiras, spokeswoman for the Miami office of the FBI, said today. She said she did not know when, where or how Cunanan suffered the injury. The wound, near Cunanan's navel, appeared to have troubled him for a while, possibly before he allegedly killed Gianni Versace on July 15, the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reported...." (Associated Press)

"The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reported in Thursday's editions that the doctor who performed the autopsy was baffled by the wound and unable to pinpoint how it occurred, except to say that it appeared to be two weeks old. Cunanan killed himself eight days after Versace was killed. The perfectly round, shallow puncture wound, which was bright red and appeared infected, was below the suspected killer's bellybutton, a source who was not identified told the newspaper." (Associated Press)


Andrew Cunanan: "After Me, Disaster"

by Joe Geringer

Without Definition

"What is utterly absurd happens in this world."

-- Nikolai Gogol

Good looking, suave, erudite and glib, Andrew Cunanan possessed what it took to own the world as his own at a very early age. By the time he was 21 years old, his brilliant mind had captured the fluency of seven languages and the essence of conversation in a circle of friends much older than he. More, he could recite the encyclopedia of designer labels, outwit the most clever of society sophisticates, and steal the attention of a room with a nod of his devil-may-care nonchalance. He was gay and proud of it, and his attitude shrugged off those who didn't understand his sexual preference. Nothing seemed to bother Andrew Cunanan. Nothing.

But, underneath, waiting to explode, hell smoldered. And when it burst it spewed blood from the corners of a Pompeiian decadency that was his brain. In its wake were the small and the mighty, the lava of hot blood burning several, from a tranquil grounds-keeper to the world's top fashion designer.

Because of Andrew's surface normality, when his inner Vesuvius did erupt the police had little to fall back on to find him and stop him before he killed again. Their crime labs possessed no fingerprints of him; he had never been arrested; had always fit into the everyday "good citizen" boundaries. His crimes were against the society norm, as it were, and not the landscape of ordained civil law. Pornographic, sometimes brutally so, his immoral world fed its sexual lust that catered to his own appetite and to that of willing partners within a leather-wearing sadomasochistic cabal. But, under the sunlight of an everyday john q. public existence, he had offended no one.

"For two decades, we have been deluged with narratives about serial killers...which invariably lay out the full pathology of a given miscreant and assure us that there are 'signs to watch for,' that if we only paid attention in the early stages, society could prevent serial murders and related unpleasantness," writes Gary Indiana in Three Month Fever. "Interestingly, Cunanan didn't experience the early traumas or manifest the egregious childhood behavior that experts tag as typical of the serial killer. More interestingly, in adult life, he did have enough of a screw loose that plenty of people noticed it, and often found it amusing."

Andrew's early years were not domestically happy, but not bloated with the usual bad-life, sociopathic elements of other to-be killers. Home life teetered between pleasing a doting and very religious, perhaps too-naive, mother and accepting the demands of a prestige-conscious father. The latter was a disciplinarian, but not a sadist. There were scenes of violence that occasionally erupted; enough perhaps to turn Andrew away from his family.

In social life, Andrew enjoyed the company of friends who regarded him as colorful, no more than a happy clown. He had a 147 IQ that showed itself in his behavior, so his whimsies were always regarded as restless results of a smart-ass kid always one step ahead. When he graduated from high school, the outgoing seniors were asked to describe themselves in a single quote for the yearbook. Andrew chose one that might have had in it a warning, but, as usual, made his peers -- probably even himself -- laugh. It was viewed as a typical Andrew Cunanan stunt. His quote was one attributed to King Louis XV: "Apres moi, le deluge." "After me, disaster."

Prize-winning journalist Maureen Orth, who followed the Cunanan killing spree through its trauma, attributes Cunanan's own inner passion and self-indulgence as his downfall. "No matter how much Andrew Cunanan got, he always wanted more -- more drugs, kinkier sex, better wine. Somehow he had come to believe that they were his due," says she in Vulgar Favors. "Lurking just beneath the charm a sinister psychosis was brewing, aided by Andrew's habits of watching violent pornography and ingesting crystal meth, cocaine, and various other drugs so prevalent in circles of gay life today -- but not spoken of."

The disaster that cometh which Cunanan may have joked about at 18 years old would indeed come. The deluge leaned, in the meantime, on a visible dam of a pretty face and a winning personality. Because he left no diary behind, no explanatory notes, one can only guess when the dam really broke and what caused it to break.

Perhaps it had been trickling for years.

First Steps

"In my beginning is my end."

-- T.S. Eliot

By the time that Andrew Phillip Cunanan was born on August 31, 1969, his parents' marriage wavered. Handsome Modesto, whom Mary Anne Shilacci had met and had fallen for, looking so elegant in his Navy whites and sporting what she liked to call an Errol Flynn mustache, had not turned out to be the doting partner he had been before marriage. Wed in the naval town of San Diego, their early years were docile.

After the birth of their first child, Christopher, in 1961, the couple began to tiff. Filipino-born Modesto was a member of the Fleet Marines that served in Vietnam and had remained in the Navy working for its hospital corps. Away from home quite a bit, he conjured false images of Mary Anne's unfaithfulness; when daughter Elena was born in 1963 he claimed the child wasn't his. Nevertheless, his wife and children dutifully followed him to Long Beach, California, thence to New York, thence back to California from one naval town to another. In 1967, their third child, Regina, was born. When baby Andrew arrived the family lived in San Diego.

According to Maureen Orth, news correspondent and author of Vulgar Favors, Mary Anne was unable to properly care for the infant, being under a doctor's care for depression. Italian born and a devout Catholic, her husband's accusations of infidelity had scarred her. Modesto, in turn, was selfishly proud of the fact that he was raising this child alone. The boy, he told everyone, "never cried."

Andrew's boyhood was neither melodramatic nor comprised of the stuff nightmares are made of. Neighbors who knew them well had no reason to point fingers and yell, "Dysfunctional!" By all appearances, the Cunanans were content; happily, they often bundled together into the family auto to go to the mall or the playground or to McDonald's. When Andrew was four, Grandpa Shilacci died and left the family an inheritance, which they wisely invested into a new home in pretty little suburban Bonita. Here, little Beaver Cleaver-faced Andrew had the toys most kids had and played the games kids his age played.

But, the spatting between husband and wife became more chronic as the years passed. To Andrew, they were sometimes overwhelming. His father's crackling boom of a voice and his mother's shrill screeches seared through him like a knife. But, he had a medicine for this: He retreated to his upstairs bedroom where the pages of comic books and adventure novels whisked him away into other, happier, more fantasy-like -- yet more stable -- worlds. Or sometimes he would merely turn up the volume of his bedroom television to drown out the caterwauling in the rooms below. Andrew loved to laugh and the likes of his favorite sitcom, Mork and Mindy, helped him forget how negative the real world can sometimes be.

He rarely complained when his mother forced the kids out of bed on Sunday mornings to accompany her to Mass, nor did he show signs of a brewing rebellion when asked to clean his room and help tidy up the kitchen after dinner. He took his father's strap for what it was worth -- something to be avoided.

But, Andrew was no automaton. He was learning with every experience, with every discipline. He was taking mental notes of his Bonita home life like a sketch artist would record his surroundings on a pad. He noted his mother's fear of Modesto, and he noted Modesto's austere authority over the Cunanan brood. He swallowed the good days and the bad days, but, as any child his age would do, he hoped every morning when he awoke that this would be one of the good days.

Author Wensley Clarkson in Death at Every Stop surmises that Andrew's instinctive inner reaction to his upbringing molded the man. Says he, Andrew "began to grow bitter about the whole concept of families because he believed that they were all unhappy like his. He promised himself he would stay unmarried...(He) had no interest in repeating history."

As Andrew's comic books staled and his novels lost their inspiration, he took it upon himself to become, as it were, his own hero, more impenetrable than Superman. And what better way to eradicate domestic grief than to recreate those around him as heroes, too? Not squabbling parents, but supportive defenders of his singular crusade. He would brag to friends how rich his father was, how brave, how caring. He rattled off stories, one after another to his friends, how dad bought him this and bought him that.

His friends at first smiled at his imaginings and dreams, but the tales became so constant and they grew so unbelievable that Andrew gained the reputation as, to quote one former school chum, "a pathological liar". Bonita School laughed at him behind his back. He may have sensed their skepticism, so, to accommodate his own falsities he would often "prove" to them just how doting his parents were. Like the time he talked his mother into bringing a hot lobster lunch to him during lunch hour so that he could savor it openly while the rest of the kids scowled over peanut butter and jelly.

In the meantime, Modesto Cunanan had retired from the Navy to upscale himself by earning a business degree. Square shouldered and in search of image, Modesto took stockbroker classes and eventually earned a certificate to practice. As part of the show, he led favorite son Andrew to the finest clothing shops in town and dressed him in label clothes with the flourish of a store mannequin. The boy loved this, for he could saunter through school halls to show off -- and the best part of the charade was that he didn't have to do any contriving.

His preppy clothes rubbed salt on the wounds of his denim-wearing buddies. They whispered behind his back that he was gay. Perhaps he heard the rumors about himself, but if he did he surely laughed. Image counted more than anything because it brought with it a personality that he felt he needed to erase the confusion of being a nobody. Because his preppiness visibly gave him a foundation, although fake, that is perhaps why his father's lesson of "be somebody, son" stuck with him so solidly in later years. It was the only thing he learned from his father that he took to heart.

When he was 12 years old, his dress and demeanor became an oddity at Bonita and his parents enrolled him into the upper-crust Bishop's School in nearby San Diego. Ivy League jackets, moderate ties and gray pressed trousers were the norm here and Andrew sported the classic look like a Greek god in apprenticeship. There was even a "Gentlemen's' Club". Tuition in 1981 was $7,000 a year.

Bright and talkative, Andrew stood out at Bishop's. Inwardly, however, he felt awkward in his adolescence. Behind the growing party-boy image, there was noncohesion. "He felt confused about his emotions towards the boys and girls in his class," Clarkson states. "Some of the (pushy) girls scared him...He kept comparing them to his adoring mom and none of them matched up to her...He felt more attracted to the weaker, milder children -- and many of them were male."

Andrew's World

"Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment."

-- Samuel Johnson

According to his biographers, Andrew Cunanan experienced his first homosexual encounter when he was in his early teens. He liked it; his libido liked it; in fact, he found it more tantalizing than the few times he petted some young female behind the Bonita bleachers. Strangely, he advertised his new-found passion by describing every last-night's sex to the other boys in class who at first thought he was putting them on.

He described his feelings so openly that after a while it became a standing joke among the Bonita males to "watch out for" that Cunanan kid in the shower room after gym classes. He boasted his trysts with the same braggadocio as the other boys did their conquests of Jeannie and Donna in the back seat of their car.

Because he made no pretense of his sexual leanings, the kids at Bonita who otherwise picked on other effeminates, left Andrew alone. When he crossed their paths they regarded him as a likable curiosity. "Everyone was happy to tolerate Andrew because he was a bit like the court jester," a friend recalls. "He was so unashamedly gay that it prevented anyone from taking offense. What you saw was what you got."

By age 15, Andrew had grown huskier than most boys his age and had acquired a mien of experience far beyond his peerage. With his dark good looks and manner, he found it possible to hang out and drink unquestioned at San Diego's more popular gay establishments.

Still, there was a lot of surface masquerade going on. There was a lot of Andrew Cunanan that Andrew Cunanan did not like. He began to, using author Clarkson's word, "reinvent" himself almost as a cause celebre. Glamour became the keyword; he wanted to be glamorous. Firstly, he did not like being Filipino, so he suddenly became Latino and acted out the part with the verve of an Antonio Banderas.

At the bars he was known as either Andrew DaSilva or David Morales. A chameleon, he changed faces and figures with a pair of stylish glasses or a trim of his sideburns, or through the transformation from a suited Clark Kent to a T-shirt wearing Superman. Even though he was Personality A on Friday night, he could be Personality B at the same spot on Saturday and get away with it. Those who spent hours with him at the bar one night would not recognize him the next.

Graduating from Bishop's, Andrew enrolled in the University of California to study history, but late-hour games of hopscotch from one gay bar to another detracted from his schoolwork. College was his parents' wish, not his, and the only direction he preferred was into a bed of some stud pick up.

But, even the muscular biceps and dimpled smiles of the "cute boys" eventually became secondary to the strategic tools of success that Andrew began eyeing -- and employing. Listening to and watching the maneuverability of the more popular homosexuals his age, he soon realized that the more sought-after members of the gay community -- well, the smarter ones anyway -- were able to peddle their bodies to the older, more mature, bankrolled men who frequented the cafes.

Most of these men led secret lives unbeknownst to a wife and children at home or to business partners at work. These were the guys who paid well for services well done; these were the money men, the corporate executives, the architects and the lawyers, the realtors and the politicians.

"Pillars of the community" with cash, they doled out unceasingly to handsome specimens like Andrew Cunanan who satisfied their deepest, most twisted erotica.

Very few questions were asked by these men nor did they offer much information about their personal lives. Andrew was a male prostitute; they recognized it and he recognized it. And because he was in demand -- he knew that too -- his price was high. Andrew didn't seek one-night-stands from these wealthier types; that was something for the brawny construction workers, policemen and weight lifters who wanted a fling. Milk money. The price asked of the older fellows was cream.

Andrew frequented the clubs with several particular elder lovers. From them he got things; from one a $30,000 automobile, from others credit cards to use at will. He enjoyed the fine life, the parties and their hideaway uptown apartments they kept him in, their exclusive wanton secret. Their beef stock. They would take him to society functions, usually as their "secretary" or "associate". Andrew met the city leaders, the celebrities. He learned the talk, the walk, the styles. And he learned how to keep secrets.

Modesto and Mary Anne Cunanan, in the meantime, had no idea of their son's homosexuality. His mother would have been especially horrified. That they were suspicious as to where he was getting his new clothes, his expensive watches and an overall obvious source of income (Andrew never held a job) and where he was spending his evenings is no understatement. When they asked, he either lied or ignored them.

Mary Anne might have worried more had it not been for other, more pressing family problems. Modesto had failed miserably in his new profession as stockbroker and was growing more despondent. Having been fired from several agencies over the last couple of years, his last termination brought with it not only the scar of his inability to perform but charges of embezzlement. He was accused of taking $106,000 from the business. It wasn't long before he disappeared from Bonita, escaping to his native Philippines.

His desertion left Mary Anne without income. She was forced to sell their home and move into a smaller place in the lower side of town. Her children helped where they could. Andrew found his visits to her unpleasant, for she had begun hearing the rumors about Andrew's gay lifestyle and, she finally admitted, had spotted him several months back kissing another man in San Diego's business district.

Heated words were exchanged. Losing control, Andrew shoved her against the house wall so hard that she dislocated a shoulder. He did feel genuine guilt and tried to apologize, but his apologies seemed to fall on dead ears. As if in spite, Andrew quit college and left for the islands to spend some time with Modesto.

That visit was short and disastrous. Andrew was horrified to find his father living in a shack in squalor: unpaved, unsewered, garbage-laden streets, fowl roaming at will, rot and decay in the climate. Striving to spend as much time away from that scene as possible, he wandered the streets of the red-light district for money to get the hell back to the States. He sought out company of his own.

He sold himself nightly; no matter that the boys were dirty and hadn't bathed for days; sometimes they wanted him to dress like a woman for added kicks. He did that, too -- anything for the peso. Finally, enough money earned for a one-way air trip, he flew back to San Francisco. It is doubtful he said goodbye to his father.

San Francisco's high life provided the mouthwash he needed to cleanse the taste of the Philippines from his palate. There, in the City by the Bay, he played throughout the infamous Castro District, a small-time Las Vegas for gays. Its varied assortment of cafes, nightclubs, bistros, bars and spas catered to all tastes of homosexual life. Hangouts included The Badlands, San Marcus and the Midnight Star. Under the guise of a number of new personae, Andrew's most popular alias was the young, suave and sophisticated Navy Lieutenant Drew Cummings.

Of the many characters he portrayed, albeit successfully, there was one distinguishing trait that he could not hide. If one looked close enough it would have been obvious. Says Wensley Clarkson in Death at Every Stop, "The one giveaway might have been his eyes -- dark and moody."


"They have gone down into the depths and you have led them there..."

-- Oscar Wilde

Andrew finally found -- and more -- what he had been looking for in the Castro District -- the attention of very, very wealthy gentlemen. One new friend, a lawyer named Eli Gould, had societal connections and introduced him to a world that Andrew had long craved, a world of limitless parties within the otherworld, where Hollywood stars, super-models and international headliners congregated in abundance and were accessible across a coffee table.

One famous person he met was one with whom he would later share discourse of fate, Italian-born fashion king Gianni Versace. Versace was gay and he was personable and, by all reports, shared dialogue with Andrew at the Colossus Disco's after-opera party. It is believed that Versace, when meeting Andrew at the gala, mistook him as someone he had previously met overseas. Naturally, Andrew played along.

As Maureen Orth tells it: "The designer walked in with an entourage...who quickly introduced him to a few people. After about fifteen minutes of chitchat and waves of young men eager to met him, Versace began to survey the room. He noticed Andrew standing with Eli, cocked his head, and walked in their direction. 'I know you,' he said to Andrew. 'Lago di Como, no?' Versace was referring to the house he owned on Lake Como near the Swiss border...Andrew was thrilled and Eli couldn't believe it. 'That's right,' Andrew answered. 'Thank you for remembering, Signor Versace.'"

It had been one of the brighter spots in the young Cunanan's life. He was having a hell of a time.

But, the crystal life of the hoi polloi was only one side to the new lifestyle he discovered in San Francisco. Andrew had stepped down into the other end of the spectrum, too, where art meant porno tapes and culture closely resembled zoology. It was the murky, bottom-depth depravity of sadomasochism and parallel eroticism so prominent in the early 1990's California gay landscape.

Money being no object, Andrew and his lovers descended into the labyrinthine wastelands of orgies, leather and chains. The "games" they played included erotic whippings; the victims were those charming young men like Andrew who let themselves be handled in a number of perverted ways.

Andrew took part in videos, some of which still sell in adult stores. He was fast becoming the ultimate sex slave of the porno underground. He didn't care, but enjoyed the status, for he indeed found arousal in humiliation and pain. "In one of the most disturbing scenes." writes Wensley Clarkson, "he was physically tortured by a gang of men in a mass rape scene that even the most hardened of Cunanan's friends found difficult to watch."

As if he were today's Dorian Gray, the wantonness eventually seemed to spill over onto the surface of his caricature. An ugly Caliban threatened to disfigure the pretty features of Andrew Cunanan. A darker, more vindictive side oozed up from under. He changed from the devil-may-care to the devil-does-care.

In retrospect, associates said he suddenly became angry, talked angry, did angry things. He sank into foul moods that, at best, could be described as meanness. One friend, Tim Schwager, remembers the night that Andrew had dropped something into his drink; he had taken Schwager home and lusted on him. "I shudder to think (how) he could have killed me at any time during the hours I was drugged and unconscious," the man reports. And he says he will never forget the sardonic grin on Andrew's face, the first thing he saw when he came to.

His behavior slid. At a paparazzi party, Andrew fell all over television star Lisa Kudrow; insisting she get him a screen test. When she disappeared suddenly without saying goodbye, Andrew vehemently stalked room to room giving other guests his appraisal of her. "She's a bitch!" he growled.

Having met English actor Hugh Grant at a celebrity gala, days later, when Andrew tried out for a walk-on role for a Grant film and wasn't chosen, he became convinced that it was the star's personal doing.

When one young man visited Andrew one night, he was aghast at how he had changed his bedroom into a shrine dedicated to actor Tom Cruise. When he brought it up in conversation, Andrew spent much of that evening cursing Cruise's wife, Nicole Kidman, because she "had" Cruise and he probably never would.

Everyone who knew Andrew agreed. Somewhere along his personal river of human emotion, an oar had fallen from the canoe.

Trail and Madson

"Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with it."

-- Le Rochefoucauld

Andrew had been having symptoms associated with AIDS. Having gone for tests in early 1997, he never returned for the diagnoses, but convinced himself he did indeed contract the disease. Dark urges that had been scratching his brain now festered. It bothered him that within the gay circle passing one's mid-20s was considered getting old; Andrew had just turned 28.

Despondent, he let his appearance go. His usually well-layered, well-trimmed hair grew long and uncombed; he gained 30 pounds; trendy dress turned sloppy and cheap. Time magazine writer Richard Lacayo adds, "(Andrew) was taking the pain killers he sometimes sold to make money, adding vodka to his usual straight cranberry juice..."

By 1997, he had deserted or had been deserted by his wealthy lovers. His credit cards, which they left him with the responsibility of paying off, exceeded the limit. It then became clear to him -- he was broke without direction.

Worse, he burned with jealousy. Two of his young lovers, Jeff Trail and David Madson, were seeing each other behind his back.

Jeff Trail was a young Navy officer intern when Andrew met him in 1992. From DeKalb, Illinois, boy-faced blonde-haired Trail had come from a respectable family. By the time he acquainted Andrew, he was fresh from the U.S. Naval Training Academy in Annapolis, serving on the USS Gridley docked in San Diego Harbor. Gay, he secretly lived with a fellow officer until he and Andrew began an affair. They saw each other quite frequently. Then, tired of the restrictions of the military life, Trail resigned to accept a managerial job with a propane manufacturer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cunanan was heartbroken. He promised to visit him regularly in his new city.

During one of these trips, while dining, Andrew spotted another old flame he had not seen in a while but also had retained a romantic interest in, rich, young architect David Madson from San Francisco. Andrew learned that Madson, like Trail, had migrated to Minneapolis in the meantime. Over lunch, the architect learned that Trail was new to the city and promised to introduce him to the "circle" in which he traveled. This irritated Andrew who still had his eyes on both men and did not favor the possibly that both might become intimate.

Something else gnawed at Andrew. Both Trail and Madson had become everything that he could never be. They were professionally developed and had much in common; he had remained stagnant. "He felt jealous," says Clarkson in Death at Every Stop, "because they both seemed to have a much better life than him. (Also) Madson's and Trail's families appeared to have accepted their sexuality. He sorely wished the same could have been said for himself."

Brooding in California, his jealousy grew until, in late April 1997, something rabid had overtaken him. On impulse, he phoned Trail to prod him. The latter denied an affair, but Andrew insisted that he was lying. Expletives from each followed. Before he slammed the phone down, Andrew yelled, "I'm going to kill you!"

That evening at a bar he told a friend, "I'll be gone for awhile. I need to finish some business." Then he ordered an airline ticket.

David Madson picked him up at the municipal airport in Minneapolis on April 26, 1997, and brought him back to his loft apartment in an upscale part of town. He promised to settle Andrew's suspicions once and for all by having Jeff Trail at his house where both men promised to convince him that nothing was going on between them.

Friends from the West Coast, upon learning of Andrew's destination, called Madson to warn him to be careful: Andrew has been acting very strangely. But, easy-going Madson replied, " Well, I think he needs a friend and I think he's trying to get his life straightened out. He just needs somebody."

When Trail entered Madson's apartment the following evening there was tension in the air. It had been the first time that he had spoken to Andrew since the heated phone conversation. Moments into the set-up meeting, Andrew and Trail began hurtling further insults at each other and, despite Madson's attempts at mediation, the argument turned violent. Around 9:45 PM, neighbors in the building began wondering about that ruckus sounding from the usually quiet loft apartment above.

In the midst of the fight, Madson panicked when he saw Andrew dart for the kitchen utility drawer and withdraw a heavy club hammer. Trail saw it too. Before either of the other men could react, Andrew brought the force of the weapon down on Trail's skull -- over and over again. Blood splattered across the room and on the killer as Trail, a battered rag doll, crumpled to the ground.

Stunned by what he had witnessed, Madson's mind blanked. He found himself helping Andrew roll the corpse into the Persian rug that had covered the living room floor. They would need to dispose of the body, they knew, at first chance. But, for two days the victim remained shoved aside in the rug in a corner of the room behind the sofa while the other two men plotted their next move. Fellow tenants reported later that, during this time, they spotted both Madson and Cunanan coming and going to and from the building as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

When Madson failed to report to work after a couple of days, a co-worker phoned him. Receiving no answer and concerned over foul play, the co-worker asked the landlord to check in on David. When the building manager, in turn, investigated he discovered bloodstains on the floor and walls and Jeff Trail's bludgeoned body stuffed in the rug.

The murderer and his sudden accomplice, learning that their secret was unearthed, hightailed it from Minneapolis in Madson's Red Jeep Cherokee. In Andrew's jacket pocket was a .40 caliber handgun that, oddly enough, had been left behind in California by Jeff Trail when he relocated to the Midwest. The cylinder was loaded with at least three bullets. In another pocket, Andrew carried another seven.

Police found Andrew's knapsack back at Madson's place. Inside were articles of identification that immediately named the killer, as well as an empty holster and cartridge box. When they searched Jeff Trail's apartment later for something that might hint as to why he was murdered, all they found was a message on his phone recorder. They listened to this eerie message. The voice on the other end was Andrew Cunanan inviting Jeff to David Madson's loft to talk things over.

The killing was far from over. Andrew felt like he was on a spree. He enjoyed the sensation. It was pleasant to release so much hostility. Forty-five miles north of Minneapolis, on a country lane leading to Duluth, Andrew pulled Madson's Jeep over to the edge of the road and pumped three bullets into his friend.


"What man was ever content with one crime?"

-- Juvenal

No one knows when Andrew Cunanan and his next victim had met -- that is, if they had ever met -- before the evening of May 3, 1997. But, on that day, less than a week after he left David Madson dead on a farmland in Minnesota, he wreaked another attack on an unsuspecting person in what appeared to be a combustive demonic fury. This next victim was 72-year-old Chicago-based realty developer Lee Miglin.

Miglin was raised in small-town Danville, Illinois, by hardworking Lithuanian parents. Working up from a blue-collar world, Miglin became a cornerstone in a succession of prime civic and business office space. Together with partner J. Paul Beitler, Miglin managed other high real-estate holdings as well. "(The firm) built the Chicago Bar Association Building and the 45-story Madison Plaza, the world headquarters for the Hyatt Corporation," explains Maureen Orth in Vulgar Favors. "Miglin himself built the world headquarters for National Can and developed much of the industrial park near O'Hare Airport. At their height, Miglin-Beitler managed over 32-million square feet of other buildings throughout the Midwest."

"Lee was a terrific, sweet, gentle guy," architect Stanley Tigerman apprises. "Very self-effacing. He was never the type to blow his own horn."

Lee's wife, Marilyn, was and still is a recognized figure on the Home Shopping Network. American women throughout the country use her line of cosmetics and perfumes, which she sells on the air. Still today, the city's women frequent her makeup salon.

The Miglins were known fund-raisers for the city they lived in and loved. They resided in an upper-crust area of brick-and-iron early-century townhouses north of downtown. Neighbors found them warm and friendly.

On the evening of Saturday, May 3, Marilyn was out of town on a business tour. Lee was seen standing out front his home by a neighbor early in the evening; he was alone. It is estimated that Andrew must have been cruising the area and, perhaps induced by drugs, vented his seething hatred for mankind at the present on the first person he saw: Miglin. Perhaps he approached the realtor for directions; perhaps he stopped him to beg a favor. Whatever, what followed was ghastly.

He led Miglin, probably at gunpoint, into his garage adjacent to the townhouse. There, Andrew bound Miglin's wrists, wrapped his face with duct tape (leaving only a space for his nose) and proceeded to put him through a series of tortures directly from what was said to be Andrew's favorite "snuff" film, Target for Torture.

Pummeling him, kicking him, he then drove a pair of pruning shears into the man's chest several times, muffling his screams. While Miglin still breathed, Andrew proceeded to slice his throat slowly with a hacksaw. Not yet satisfied, he deposited the sack that was Lee Miglin under his 1994 Lexus, rolling it back and forth over the body until it was mush.

As if to celebrate his success in ridding the world of another human being, the killer entered the Miglin home from the back. Inside, he helped himself to sandwiches, an apple and a glass of orange juice from the refrigerator, watched a couple home videos, then slept that night in the Miglin couple's bed. In the morning, he stole some golden coins he found lying in the townhouse and left Chicago in the Miglin's green, immaculate Lexus.

Andrew made absolutely no effort in Chicago to conceal his identity. Rather, he taunted. When the police discovered David Madson's Jeep Cherokee parked a couple blocks away from the Miglin home, the front seat was strewn with his own photos daring the police to pursue him.

The FBI entered the case and immediately put Andrew Phillip Cunanan on its Top Ten Most Wanted list. They distributed posters nationally. Because Andrew had been using the Lexus mobile phone, the bureau was able to trace his movements. When agents learned he was nearing Philadelphia, they warned the police there to stop the vehicle, labeling him as "armed and dangerous." Prowl cars hit the main roads, the back roads and the expressways throughout Philadelphia, but it was as if Andrew Cunanan had become invisible.

From behind the wheel of the stolen car Andrew listened to the radio reports and laughed at the be-on-the-lookout-fors. Realizing his blunder with the car phone, he tossed it out the window, his salute, as he saw it, to the stupidity of the police.

Law enforcement agencies were baffled. How had they missed him? Where had he gone? But, Andrew Cunanan had found a haven where no one would look for a living person. A cemetery.


"Death is an evil; the gods have so judged; had it been good, they would die."

-- Sappho

Finn's Point Cemetery in Pennsville, New Jersey, just across the Pennsylvania line, dates back more than a hundred years. In its sod are Civil War veterans, Union soldiers who had fought for the nation and Confederate soldiers who had died in incarceration at a nearby prisoner of war camp. It was to these peaceful, historically fertile grounds that Andrew Cunanan had come to hide out and rest a bit before he continued on the lam.

An ABP had been issued for his arrest. Realizing that the Lexus and its license plates were on every law officer's spot list, he required a change of vehicles. He was amazed he had come this far and had, with a little self-prodding, convinced himself that he just well may be unstoppable. All it would take is to think ahead. Circling the cemetery, he spotted a red 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck parked outside what looked like a caretaker's house set back off the path. Pulling aside, he stepped up to the door and knocked.

Inside, William Reese heard it. He turned down the gospel station he was listening to and answered the rapping. He would be dead within a minute.

Reese, 45 years old, was a former electrician who had quit his job to take care of the cemetery he cherished. A historical enthusiast and founder of a local Civil War reenactment group, he loved to wander its turf and gaze at the old graves; to him each one told a story. And as he mowed and watered the lawns, trimmed the tree branches and kept his place immaculate, his imagination wandered. He was a man who loved his job. He was quiet, never bothered anyone, but was always there to help. This morning, May 9, Reese had kissed his wife and young son goodbye at their home in Deerfield Township. He promised to be home by dinnertime.

The dark-haired stranger at the door asked if he might have a glass of water to take an aspirin. Reese nodded certainly and led Andrew into the small kitchen in the rear of the house. When turning round from the faucet, glass in hand, he faced a revolver barrel. "Give me your truck keys!" Andrew demanded. "Of course, I don't want no trouble," is all Reese said as he reached in his pockets to hand over the key ring. Andrew smiled, took the keys, and shot him anyway. Point blank.

The police were stumped. "For the first time since the search for Patty Hearst, the bureau had to distribute information on the killer without fingerprints," notes author Wensley Clarkson. All wanted posters they issued did, however, exhibit several faces of Andrew Cunanan to demonstrate his talent of being able to "look different" from place to place. What really scared the police, though, apart from his inhuman elusiveness, was that no one knew where he was headed or when he would strike again. And they were sure he would strike again

When William Reese's body was placed to rest in the folkloric cemetery he maintained, members of his Civil War group, the 14th Brooklyn Society, gave him a six-gun salute. Widow Rebecca looked up with tears in her eyes, whispering, "He would have loved it."

But, it was obvious in all the mourners' faces, even in that of the Methodist minister who gave the service, that the parting would have been much sweeter had those six guns fired upon Andrew Cunanan.

Unlike a Fugitive

"We kill time; time buries us."

-- Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

The nation was asking, the FBI was asking, his family was asking, his friends were asking: What was motivating Andrew Cunanan? In San Francisco among the gay community they entertained the notions of either the green-eyed monster Jealousy or the possibility that he may have flipped out upon discovering he was HIV-positive. These were the two main suppositions that the law enforcement agencies, thence the press, picked up on -- both without supporting evidence but both the only logical guesses anyone had to go on.

Did he have anything personal against his victims? This was an even more untenable question. The FBI tried to propose a theory based on the individual murders as part of an ongoing killing spree. Perhaps, the experts pondered, Jeff Trail may have infected him with the AIDS virus. But, why slay Madson? Early suspicions that Madson was done away with because he was a witness to the Trail murder lost credence when Andrew began purposely leaving symbolic "calling cards" behind as if he wanted the police to know who he was. As for Miglin, he appeared to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when Andrew decided to live out some warped fantasy encouraged by a sicko torture flick. Reese? Probably no more than someone with something an escaped fugitive desperately needed: a set of wheels.

Andrew's next murder seems to have been premeditated. Almost as if the others were "practice shots" to build up his nerve and refine his skills. This is concluded by the fact that he chose as his destination the spot of glitz and fun, of surf and sand, Miami Beach. Here his target was known to reside. Seaside, Andrew loitered as if in waiting. But he didn't linger in the shadows nor peer squinty-eyed through closed drapes. Strange as it seems, the Top Ten Wanted Killer made very little effort to conceal himself. More oddly, he roamed at will in the open air and among crowds night and day for more than two months undetected.

He shuffled through the sands of the beaches, hung around the trendy spas on the boardwalk, occasionally lunched in the well-lit salad bars, relaxed under the prism-splashed umbrella of a cafe table. Miami Beach, as described by writer Richard Lacayo in a Time magazine article "is a laboratory of instant gratification, full of clubs and in-line skaters and muscle guys with deltoids like the gas tanks on a Harley." Here Andrew came to play and gleefully watched the police cars drive casually by him.

He arrived in Miami Beach on May 10, 1997, parked Reese's stolen Chevy truck in a public parking garage and strolled to an inn he had spotted while cruising. Without luggage, he registered into the Normandy Plaza Hotel. At one time a beach front Xanadu for the movie stars of the 1940s, the Normandy had not aged well. It had by the 1970s become a discount lodging for truckers and transients, either nightly or long-term. Its rooms were clean and here Andrew stayed throughout most of his time in Miami. Opting for their monthly plan Andrew was assigned a third floor room, Room 322, at $690 per month. For dinner, he usually ate at a nearby Italian restaurant.

The manhunt didn't deter occasional visits to the gay strip, to places like The Twist, a dance hall for men of his sexual persuasion. He had heard the police were watching these places, but he braved the elements anyway and continued to pick up and go home with interested lovers. Almost as if on instinct, he would wear disguises.

Sometimes, he would shave his legs and wear women's clothing for the purpose of titillating some male who found transvestitism arousing. He shaved his head on a lark, even wore a mohawk for awhile.

In the daylight, he donned a pair of shades and a cap, and with white khakis or shorts, blended in amongst the sun worshippers. As the national media grew tired of asking where was Andrew Cunanan and news headlines focused on other things, Andrew grew bolder. He became a regular, sans makeup, at the tennis courts by day and the bistros by night.

But, his brain never idled. The germ that lay there burned and continued to grow. While always on guard -- for he knew better than to totally relax -- he continued to dream of his next conquest, one for which he knew the FBI wasn't prepared. The ultimate conquest. Afternoons he would stroll down 11th Street and pause a block from the ocean in front of the Renaissance facade of the Gianni Versace mansion, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man he intended to kill. A glimpse is all it would take.


"The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing."

-- Sigmund Freud

Gianni Versace's name was synonymous with a new line of nouveau clothing that he created; it bespoke glamour and brilliance. Born into poverty in Calabria, Italy, Versace brought a new concept of fashion as applied to the feminine form in its utter sensuality-- and grabbed the attention of cotoures worldwide. Because his styles tempted the erotic, he had his detractors as well as his disciples. But, the feminists in spurning his low-cuts and leathers inadvertently brought Versace controversy that did little but increase awareness of and desirability for his work.

"Versace thumbed his nose at those who said his fashion was the height of bad taste -- as many did when he showed his sadomasochistic collection at one big fashion show," Wensley Clarkson attests. "His linebacker-shouldered, studded leathers and floral prints enthralled as many as it appalled. By the mid-1990s, the Versace label was dominating the world of fashion design. By 1995, Versace had profits of $900 million a year." Movie stars, royalty and rock icons wore his one-of-a-kinds at the largest galas. Many of them, such as Princess Diana, were his dearest friends.

Signor Versace had just completed a highly publicized and successful tour in Europe when he and his entourage of promoters and bodyguards arrived in Miami Beach on July 12. Worn down from a hectic schedule, Versace planned to "quiet down my life and enjoy more my privacy," as he told a business partner. He was 50 years old and desired downtime to enjoy the world.

Andrew Cunanan went looking for him in the upper-priced gay bars that Versace was known to frequent when wanting to relax. His favorite spots were The Twist, the KGB Club or Liquid. Every morning, it is believed, Andrew walked the pavements between Versace's iron gate on 11th Street to Ocean Drive, where, at the News Cafe, the celebrity often partook of his favorite gourmet coffee. On these trips, Versace was usually alone.

On the morning of July15, 1997, Andrew caught up with Versace and followed him home from the News Cafe. What exactly he had against the celebrity is still anyone's guess -- one theory in FBI files claims Versace had once turned Andrew down for a modeling job -- but as the luminary slid his key into the scrolled gate outside his mansion, Andrew stepped up behind him and pumped two .40 caliber bullets into his head.

So Near, So Far

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"-- William Shakespeare

Immediately following the Versace murder, the press went wild. According to the author of Three Month Fever, Gary Indiana, "The killer, widely ignored while he left a trail of bodies from Minnesota to New Jersey, became, abruptly, a diabolic icon in the circus of American celebrity, and virtually any scrap of information about him, true, false, or in between, got reported as breathless fact along the entire spectrum of 'news providers'. Cunanan's life was transformed...into a narrative overripe with tabloid evil: ugly sex, drug dealing, prostitution, et cetera..."

Because the media watched the case unfold with such keenness, every step the Miami Beach Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation took was followed with open eyes and breathless anticipation of results. Journalist Maureen Orth calls the manhunt "comparable to the hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr. assassin James Earl Ray". Hundreds of FBI agents were called to the scene and the local police abandoned every other priority but Cunanan.

Every official move was under scrutiny, every dead end was magnified and every blunder scoffed. In the enormity of what had happened -- the unbelievable and senseless death of an idol in his prime -- and what was happening -- the failure to find Andrew Cunanan amidst cacophony and confusion and ridicule -- slip-ups did occur. Unfortunately, some of these "gaffes" had they been caught earlier might have saved Versace.

For one, while there had been confirmed sightings of Cunanan in Miami Beach prior to the murder, its citizenry had never been alerted. When this fact was divulged, the city revolted -- especially the members of the gay community, in whose circle the killer navigated. Why no one was warned remains a mystery.

"In fact, Cunanan came close to be being captured just four days before Versace's murder," Time magazine's Richard Lacayo informs us. "A sandwich shop employee, G. Kenneth Brown...had recognized a man ordering a tuna sub as Cunanan. Brown took the order back to the kitchen and sneaked to a telephone to dial 911. Police were dispatched, but while Brown was still on the phone, a co-worker took the customer's money...and unwittingly let him walk out the door."

William Reese's Chevrolet pickup truck, which Andrew drove from New Jersey and left in a public garage near his hotel, remained unidentified until after the Versace killing; it had been left there, unmoved, for more than two months. The attentive and angry public demanded to know why the police had not investigated an obviously abandoned vehicle and why they hadn't checked every garage, every alley, every corner for that getaway vehicle -- especially since Cunanan's presence in town had been established.

But, according to all the books on Cunanan, the lollapalooza of blunders, the deadliest of them, involved a departmental oversight that, in reverse, would have almost certainly resulted in Andrew's apprehension and the survival of Versace.

On July 7, eight days before Andrew struck, he had found himself strapped for money. He stopped at the Cash on the Beach Pawn Shop to sell one of the golden coins he had stolen from Lee Miglin's townhouse in Chicago. The clerk gave him $200 for it. But, the procedure required Andrew to present two forms of identification, a signature and a current place of residence -- none which he could, if he wanted the money, lie about. He held his breath, produced two IDs, signed his real name, and wrote as his address the authentic Normandy Plaza Hotel. By law, the form was then expediently faxed by the pawn clerk to the Miami Beach Police Department.

The reason for this procedure was simple -- so that the department could then match the names on each transaction against a printout of names appearing on an ongoing fugitives list. However, the form sent over by the Cash on the Beach on July 8 sat un-reviewed on the desk of a vacationing clerk until it came to light hours after Versace died.

The "comedy of errors" (to quote Wensley Clarkson) continued. Aware now where Andrew had been staying -- from the location stated on the pawnshop form -- a SWAT team invaded the Normandy Plaza and searched the room where Andrew was supposed to have been staying. They found only empty quarters. But, two days later, the hotel realized it had goofed, had given the FBI the wrong room number. This time the law burst into Room 322 to find several Cunanan effects, but, as everyone by this time expected, the owner of these possessions had long since fled.

Maureen Orth praises the aggressiveness of the FBI in their pursuit of Andrew, but points out that their A for effort was not enough. She determines what might have been an important cause behind the glitches. In Vulgar Favors, which records her coverage of the Andrew Cunanan case beginning to end, she explains: "I found denial throughout the country of wide-spread drug use (and) of other structures designed to foster such use, both in the gay community and in the part of the law enforcement, which seems uncomfortable with the idea of broaching certain subjects for fear it will be perceived as harassing gays.

If the FBI were more familiar with the gay world of South Florida, for example, Andrew Cunanan, a Top Ten Wanted criminal, would never have been able to live freely at the Normandy Plaza Hotel for nearly two months or to leave a stolen red truck in a parking garage for weeks on end. As it was, a nationwide manhunt that cost millions produced little result."

She goes on to quote FBI agent Kevin Rickert from the Fugitive Task Force, who told her, "There were not many successful moments of the investigation, because we never were really close to him. We never did catch up to him."

Of course, Rickert speaks metaphorically because the FBI did indeed find their man on July 23, 1997,eight days after he gunned down the designer. That afternoon, a Portuguese caretaker made his routine rounds along the exclusive Indian Creek Canal to check on a private houseboat wharfed there by his boss, the German millionaire Torsten Reineck who was off sightseeing in Las Vegas.

The caretaker noticed the door of the private residence ajar and decided to investigate. Nothing at first seemed out of place in the spacious living room, but upstairs he found himself suddenly face to face with a startled young man who, upon seeing him, ran into what was Herr Reineck's bedroom and slam its door behind him. The quick-thinking tradesmen realized that this must be that fugitive the FBI was searching for; once outside, he notified the police.    

Within minutes the houseboat was surrounded. Four hundred FBI agents and policeman took position on the wharf while sharpshooters stationed themselves in the windows of the surrounding apartment complex; police boats circled it and helicopters hovered inches above its level roof.

The standoff began. For three hours the FBI edged closer, armed to kill if necessary. After Andrew failed to answer constant demands over blare horn to "come out with hands up," the order to assault was given at 8:15 PM. Thrusting gas grenades into the windows, agents burst onto the premises expecting to meet with lunatic gunfire inside. But all was still.

After the lower quarters were pronounced clean, the agents moved upstairs, nervous fingers on their automatics. At the top of the stairs they fanned out. Silence... Nothing...No one. Just when they were at the point of believing that Andrew Cunanan had once again slipped thought their fingers, they found him.

He lay on the floor beside a bed, Jeff Trail's Golden Saber pistol in his hand. The brain that had harbored dark, dark thoughts now spilled from a self-inflicted hole just above the right ear.


"No question is ever settled

Until it is settled right."

-- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Andrew Cunanan died leaving behind an unearthly, uneasy silence. Like a nightmare too real to fade with the dawn, his death produced no hallelujahs, no heroes and definitely no wisdom. Sometimes the causes of nightmares can be traced; usually they are. But, what motivated the hellish dreams of Andrew Phillip Cunanan? Did even he know?

The book Death at Every Stop, by Wesley Clarkson, concludes with an excellent summary, citing the views of psychiatrists and criminologists, of what might have triggered Cunanan. Many of them agree that he does not fit into the standard "spree killer" or "serial killer" cone. Following are some of their remarks that not only examine a possible motive but help illuminate the psyche that was Andrew Cunanan.

* Vernon Geberth, author of Practical Homicide Investigation, the textbook for homicide detectives:

"If you take a look at the dynamics of the killing of (Versace), he was basically killing the person that he could never be...A lot of folks who do this feel a sense of superiority over the police. The police were basically impotent to him. By doing this, he not only got to validate his own superiority, he got to make a statement."

* Eric Hickey, professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno:

"He thought he was immune or impervious to capture. Most serial killers are much more discrete, careful to hide the bodies. He was kind of like the Unabomber, who kept sending out more letters."

* Jack Levin, professor of criminology at Northeastern University, Boston:

"As a rule, serial killers don't go after celebrities. Most serial killers target prostitutes and street people and old women living alone or small children -- safe, conventional targets. Most serial killers would never use a firearm."

* Dr. Helen Morrison, a leading forensic psychiatrist:

"We are faced with a brand new type of murderer and that is one reason why there are so many unanswered questions. There is no comparison between Cunanan and any other model we have. He is not a serial killer, not a spree killer, and certainly not a mass killer...If someone doesn't fit, then maybe we should start getting rid of the boxes."

* Richard Ressler, FBI agent and serial killer expert:

"He had relationships with several young men and one left him. He was having financial problems. All of these dynamics were pulling on this guy. Being self-centered and narcissistic, these had a special stress. And I suspect this guy probably had contracted AIDS."

* Paul Salkin, psychiatrist:

"He was a complete chameleon...a multiple personality. He certainly had multiple appearances."

All these are, of course, professional conjectures. The experts do not claim the final word. The legacy that Andrew Cunanan left is bloody and bitter and tells us that nightmares live among us. Probably the best description of Andrew, apart from the deep-rooted Freudianisms, comes from Thomas Epach, chief of criminal prosecutions for Cook County, Illinois. Says he: "(He) was like watching a weather map. This killer was the consummate criminal storm."


The following sources provided excellent background material from which to fashion this biography of Andrew Cunanan's life and crimes.

  • A&E Television Network/Biography, Andrew Cunanan. Greystoke Productions, Inc., 1997.

  • Clarkson, Wensley, Death at Every Stop. NY: St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1997.

  • Indiana, Gary, Three Month Fever. NY: Cliff Street Books/Harper Collins, 1999.

  • Lacayo, Richard, "Tagged for Murder," article appearing in Time magazine, issue, July 28, 1997.

  • Orth, Maureen, Vulgar Favors. NY: Delacorte Press, 1999.


SEX: M RACE: A TYPE: N MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific

MO: Random murders of men by gay "thrill killer".

DISPOSITION: Suicide in Fla. to avoid capture.



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