Episode 25 | Killing Versace | Chronology of a Spree Killer
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
In today’s podcast we’re going to deep dive into the macabre chronology of one of the most sensational and high profile murders and murder sprees in recent history. The killing of fashion king Gianni Versace nearly 25 years ago in 1997. As sad as any murder is, this tale is especially so, considering the multiple other murders across the US and horrific timeline that culminated in a final act of an almost mob-style killing of one of the world’s most iconic fashion designers..
It was a hot and typically balmy morning July 15th, in Miami Beach,1997 and internationally revered fashion icon Gianni Versace was schmoozing with the manager at News Cafe, a buzzy Ocean Drive restaurant, walking distance from his palatial residence. He bought his usual coffee, exchanged greetings with the staff, scooped up issues of Vogue, people and The New Yorker, what else would you expect a fashion magnate to read!? and headed back to Casa Casuarina, the opulent Mediterraean Revival he’d spent millions acquiring and renovating. It was modest, only eight bedrooms, two kitchens, three sitting rooms, a bar where he entertained super models and global celebrities, 10 bathrooms (supermodels need their space) a library and 4 living rooms because he could,. - he had it rough.
He Purchased the home in 1992 and loved the area so much he decided to purchase the hotel next to it and had it demolished in order to create a space for his garden - commissioning sir Roy strong an English art historian and landscape master architect. Although he only paid roughly $3 million for the home, He spent an astonishing $32 million on renovations which included in addition to the lavish garden, a pool Tiberius would kill for- replete with 24k gold tiles, and a new south wing to Casa Casuarina. 50yr old Gianni Versace knew how to live, at the helm of a fashion empire he had the means to get anything he wanted, he was the unofficial mayor of South Beach, until the day he died at the hands of an obsessed mad man who had just been added to the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Twenty five years ago, South Beach, Florida was not a place that catered to early risers. It was a beach-cavorting, nightclub-dancing, hedonistic scene ruled by a fashion crowd of models, musicians, actors, and bohemians—so long as said bohemian looked good on Rollerblades wearing a G-string. But within this indolent world there were driven, ambitious people, and none more so than the designer known simply as: Versace.
On December 2, 1946, Gianni Versace was born in Reggio Calabria, the tip of Italy’s “boot,” the son of an appliance salesman and the village seamstress. He wasn’t much interested in classroom instruction. The place he wanted to be was his mother’s workshop, where Franca Versace made beautiful wedding dresses for the brides of their community.
“Why don’t you go out and play with your friends?” Franca asked Gianni, He responded: “I don’t want to. I want you to show me how you make the clothes.”
By his mid-twenties, Versace was in Milan, the hot new epicenter of fashion, earning six figures a year as a designer. His first collection was shown on March 28, 1978, at the Permanente, a contemporary art museum. He became the darling of Milan with his provocative clothes, igniting a bitter rivalry with Giorgio Armani. The saying went “Armani dresses the wife, Versace dresses the mistress.”
“Not only was he a brilliant designer, he was a brilliant marketer… he was the first to bring the celebrities into the front rows,” “He was the first to use actresses and rock stars in his advertising campaigns. He understood the importance of getting his name and his image out there on a global level.”
Versace became one of the most famous designers of the era, and is credited with creating the phenomenon of the supermodel. He made stars of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and his runway-show favorite, Naomi Campbell. Even more than that, his aesthetic offered a refreshing contrast to the architectural simplicity of his predecessors. Versace designs were vibrant, sultry, and fun. “He impressed that the whole idea of getting dressed is not so much to cover yourself but is about being attractive,” “He felt you should dress to attract attention.”
He also had a knack for discovering—and nurturing—raw talent. The women chosen by Versace weren’t just regarded as vehicles for modeling his clothes—they became part of his world.
Sitting on top of a high-stakes empire, which he ran with sister, Donatella, and brother, Santo, Versace needed a place where he could retreat and relax. And on a trip with Miami Beach’s South Beach in 1991, he found his haven a 1930’s Mediterranean mansion.. 1116 Ocean Drive became his grotto. He felt “The mood was very, special, there a vibe he hadn't found any place else in the world.” And the Versace world was a place that everyone wanted to be a part of. And apparently an obsessed and violent Andrew Cunanan did too.
ABOUT ANDREW / Peronality/ Older men etc.
Ever since he committed his string of horrific murders, the life of Andrew Cunanan has has been under a microscope. He did not seem destined for criminal infamy. Cunanan came from a middle-class San Diego family. His father was a Philippines-born stockbroker of varying success and his mother an Italian-American homemaker..
Cunanan’s school days at the elite Bishop’s School in La Jolla, from 1981 to 1987may have been the most formative.. His parents struggled to pay the private school’s tuition, mortgaging their home so their youngest child could attend. Cunanan hid his true background from his classmates, and hinted that he came from privilege, even royalty. He made no secret of being gay while in high school and cultivated an outrageous, carefree persona of rich bad boy.
The private school strove to be nurturing, but it seemed to only intensify Andrew’s underlying anger and already well developed penchant for pretending to be someone he was not,” His father, he said, was a Filipino general close to ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as well as a bisexual with a young lover, whom Andrew resented. Another story was that his father was a navy veteran and a stockbroker from nearby Rancho Bernardo. However—as a lawsuit filed by his wife alleges—he had been accused of embezzling more than $100,000 and who abandoned his wife and their four children in 1988. Cunanan once boasted that he had a pilot’s license, and that a Filipino senator engaged him occasionally to fly him around in an aging prop plane Cunanan referred to as the “Buddy Holly death plane.”
Despite Cunanan’s reportedly high IQ of 147 (statistically higher than 99.9 percent of the population) his grades were not stellar.. After graduating, he enrolled at the University of California, San Diego, but quickly dropped out, and began befriending rich older men to pay for his rent, clothes, travel expenses and addictions. He reportedly became addicted to drugs—cocaine and meth—and sadomasochistic pornography. His mother referred to his as a high-priced gay giggilo.
DeSilva, Andrew DeSilva- Cunanan was always known as DeSilva in San Diego and was blessed with a bounding gift to gab and the big spender with the loud, look-at-me laugh. To his inner circle in the San Diego gay scene Cunan’s his father was an Israeli millionaire, at other times that he was a Fifth Avenue aristocrat. He never told the truth: including the story of his mother sharing a “spa with Debbie Harry,” as her son liked to relate.
Despite their misgivings, Cunanan’s friends indulged him in his stories; brushing him off as an amusing raconteur who insisted on picking up every tab and tipping very generously. He could afford it, after all he was dating a much older multimillionaire. Enter Norman Blachford, a wealthy 60 something sugar daddy that gave him a $2000 a month allowance a slick new Infiniti to cruise around in and the security that Cunanan needed. They took trips together to Paris in the south of France and would fly to New York for Broadway shows.
Wealthy Blachford was a member of Gamma Mu, the extremely private fraternity of about 700 very rich, mostly Republican, and often closeted gay men, which twice a year sponsors posh “fly-ins” to cities around the world. At Gamma Mu’s last Washington, D.C., fly-in, two years ago, members were treated to a private party in the Capitol Rotunda and a brunch on the roof of the Kennedy Center. “The annual Starlight Ball in D.C. attracts hundreds of the highest echelon of closeted Washington.”
Through Blachford, Cunanan—as Andrew DeSilva—briefly became a Gamma Mu member, and his contacts in the group afforded him access to a storehouse of privileged information. Reportedly some members were alerted by the F.B.I. to be on the lookout for Cunanan, who was in a position, it was feared, to blackmail them.
On one overseas trip a fellow Gamma mu member from LA shared a house with Cunanan and Blachford in the south of France. Larry Chrysler reports, that Cunanan told him he was descended from Sephardic Jews and spent his time lying by the pool underlining passages in books, dining at the finest restaurants, and soaking up information “like a sponge.” Chrysler says Cunanan had an opinion on everything and found him “fascinating,” but full of “BS.” During the trip Cunanan came back from an outing to a nearby french village with a tiny jar of jam that cost more than $20. The wealthy Chrysler thought that he was mad dropping that kind of coin on such a small item- Cunanan responded “I never look at any price,” he said. “My family never looked at any price.”
On their way back from France they spent several days in the Hamptons as guests of a wealthy gay couple. They lived the highlife attending dinner parties with well-to-dos. Cunanan charmed his older companions, telling them outlandish stories that made them raise their eyebrows: that he had once been married to a Jewish woman, and that his father-in-law was the head of the Mossad. Crikey! It seems this lengthy period of time together on the road coupled with Cunanan's shenanigans and poetic BS was more than sugar papa Norm Blachford could take and soon after he issued Andrew his walking papers. Cunanan was dumbfounded that he would let him go.
San Fran and JEFF TRAIL / MADSEN CONNECTION
Heartbroken, broke and nothing going for him careerwise, Andrew headed for San Francisco where he stayed with a friend named David Madson. He and Madson had had a romantic relationship the year prior – while Cunanan was secretly living with Blachford. They had met at a gay club and sparks flew. They experimented with sadomasochism - something both were very into. But Madson began to distance himself from Cunanan - finding him untrustworthy - often times vanishing without contact for long periods of time. madson began to cool their romance. Now that Madson had made clear that their friendship was platonic, he allowed Cunanan to stay with him at his apartment – temporarily until he got on his feet. Andrew decided he was going to move to San Francisco permanently and went back to San Diego for a farewell dinner with friends.
Meanwhile a mutual friend of cunanan and Madson, Jeff Trail enters the fray. Trail and cunanan had met years earlier and became close friends, occasionally Trail taking Cunanan out to shooting Ranges – Trail was a golf war vet and worked for the California Highway Patrol in San Diego. He and Cunanan had had a falling out after trail backed out of doing business together. Trail new about Andrews ways and shady dealings ( Cunanan had dealt drugs at parties and clubs before) and didn't want any part of it. Incensed at Trail refusing to work together Cunanan threw Trail under the bus, telling Madson, slanderously that Trail was mixed up in the drug trade with him and had been forced to quit the CHP flee California, due to an impending investigation. Police later saying they know of no such investigation ever being instigated.
Trail took a job in Minneapolis working for a gas company and when Madson also relocated to the city, Cunanan introduce the two and they became friends., Cunanan had told a friend that he was feeling left out having the two people he cared most about living in the same faraway city without him. Cunanan may have been jealous, or suspicious that Madson and Trail were gossiping about him behind his back. He may also have been angry at Trail for refusing to work with him.
Cunanan’s farewell dinner in San Diego on April 23, 1997
Before moving to San Francisco, Cunanan told friends, he had some unfinished business to take care of with Jeff Trail. He also said that he was going to start a business making prefab movie sets with a friend named Duke Miglin in Chicago. Miglin, remember that name.
Nobody would have guessed, based on what they talked about that night, that he had bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis.
The last thing in the world Jeff Trail or David Madson wanted was a visit from Andrew Cunanan. Trail had made it clear that he wouldn’t be around much the weekend of Andrew’s visit as it was his boyfriend Jon Hackett’s 21st birthday and they had plans.
On April 25th, David Madson dutifully picked Cunanan up at the Minneapolis airport. At dinner with several of his friends from work that night, Madson appeared uncomfortable after Cunanan asked Madson “Show them what I got you,” He had bought Madson a gold Cartier watch as a thank-you for helping turn his life around after staying with him in San Fran. During dinner Cunanan, who mentioned that he planned to return to California Monday morning, was up to his old tricks to impress new people. He mentioned the Rolls-Royce he had driven around in as a kid. And the movie set business came up again.
Cunanan presumably spent Friday night at Madson’s apartment. And then Saturday at Jeff Trails pad in nearby Bloomington. Sunday afternoon Trail told his boyfriend Hackett that he needed to talk to Andrew about something “pretty important,” which wouldn’t take long. When Hackett arrived at Trail’s apartment at six p.m., there was no sign of Cunanan or his bags. About eight o’clock, though, Cunanan left a voice message for Trail, giving Madson’s number and saying, “Give me a call, because I’d like to see you.”
Later at Madson’s apartment, the loft’s intercom, shows that someone—presumably Trail—was admitted to Madson’s apartment at 9:45 p.m. A neighbor recalled hearing shouting and somebody saying “Get the fuck out,” shaking and thumping against the wall nearly a minute, then water running. He looked out his door but saw no one. The next day another neighbor saw Madson in the elevator with a man matching Cunanan’s description. And on Tuesday, yet another neighbor saw the two men walking Prints, Madson’s Dalmatian.
Meanwhile, since Trail had vanished and wasn’t returning any calls, his BF Jon Hackett was beside himself with worry. Monday night about eight, Hackett returned to Trail’s apartment to find it just as he had left it. police later saying, an upstairs neighbor had seen a man matching the description of Cunanan in front of the apartment and heard voices talking inside between 7 and 7:45 p.m. on Sunday the night before. This would add up. Cunanan came to Trails place and the 2 went together to Madson’s for a ‘talk’.
It was now Tuesday afternoon and 2 coworkers of DAvid Madson’s were concerned as he had missed two days of work and couldn't be reached. They showed up at his apartment and knocked on the door. Paws the Dalmatian was barking and scratching at the door. They decided to call the police as their concerns grew. After discussing with the police who informed them that if they entered and the dog acted aggressively they would have to shoot it, they decided to hold off. They instead left a note for the building superintendent asking her to make a welfare check on Madison. When the superintendent entered the apartment she made the most horrific discovery. a body wrapped in a carpet. Blood was splattered all over the back of the door, and there were two sets of bloody footprints on the floor. Madson’s wallet and a bloody Banana Republic T-shirt had been left behind and presumably the murder weapon, A bloody household hammer was on the table by the door.
Who’s body was it? It was assumed that the body belonged David Madson, as it was his apartment and at that stage the pieces of the puzzle had not yet been assembled. It would take until the following morning to identify body in the rug—Although his wallet, with his ID and picture, was on him, His face was badly beaten. It was the tattoo of the cartoon figure Marvin the Martian on his left ankle—that proved it was Jeff Trail.
Trail had been attacked from behind, and his face had been bludgeoned multiple times with a hammer. His Swiss Army watch had stopped at 9:55 p.m. Cunanan and Madson had vanished. To the horrified disbelief of all who knew him, Madson immediately went from being the supposed victim to being a suspect for the murder of Jeff Trail.
The Minneapolis police assumed it was Madson. “It’s his apartment. There’s a body in there. There’s no way to pin it on Cunanan.
The hunt was on. Between Tuesday and Friday, Madson’s red Jeep Cherokee was spotted on Interstate 35 going north—On Friday afternoon, the two stopped to eat at a diner near Rush Lake, in Chisago County, about an hour’s drive north of the Twin Cities. On Sat. am May 3rd, two fishermen at Rush lake while navigating their way through tall reeds along the edge f the lake,, stumbled upon David Madson’s bullet-riddled body. He had been shot three times, through one eye and in the head and back. A .40-caliber Golden Saber bullet was found in his chest. His car keys were on the ground, but his Jeep was gone. According to Investigator Rivard, Madson’s body showed no sign of restraints, and his only defensive wounds were in his fingers—possibly he raised his hands to deflect a shot to the face.
Further sleuthing at Madson’s apt uncovered evidence to corroborate S&M activity. a pair of handcuffs. It was well known that Madson was involved in S&M, and so was Cunanan, and that it had gone on a long period of time. Nevertheless, nationwide attention began focusing on Cunanan only after the next killing in Chicago.
Meanwhile back at Trails apt a box of ammunition was found in his closet that matched the .40-caliber bullets Madson was shot with. Another box of the same bullets—with 10 missing—and an empty holster were also found in a duffel bag in Madson’s apartment. On the handle of the bag was an ID tag. When they revealed it there was their break in the case they so desperately needed. The tag read: Andrew Cunanan.
Next stop Chicago!
Remember the name Miglin? Duke Miglin? The guy Cunanan reportedly told friends in CA he was going to do business with making movie sets… Now It’s highly unlikely that it's a coincidence of family names but Cunanan found himself in Chicago at Lee Miglins’ house. Miglin was a real estate tycoon in the Chicago area. He and his wife Marilyn were well known well to do doers and movers in the city. Their son is Duke Miglin.
Lee Miglin and his wife, Marilyn—who founded a cosmetics company and became a Home Shopping Network celebrity—were much loved in Chicago. Philanthropic, caring. The son of a Lithuanian coal miner in southern Illinois, Miglin rose from selling pancake mix out of the trunk of his car to become along with his partner the developer of some of the biggest buildings on the Chicago skyline; on his own he developed much of the commercial area at O’Hare Airport. His wife Marilyn has a smart shopping street named after on Chicago’s Near North Side. Marilyn Miglin Way. On that street, her boutique faces Gianni Versace’s.
It was Sunday May 4th. Marilyn, had been out of town, and When Miglin didn’t come to the airport to pick her up, she went home to find a door open and what looked like a gun in the bathroom. She called the police. There had been no forced entry into Miglin’s Gold Coast town house.
Cunanan’s callousness had become extreme: Lee Miglin’s body was discovered by police under a car in his garage. The murder was brutal and had grisly, ritualistic overtones: Miglin’s hands and feet were bound, and his body was partially wrapped in plastic, brown paper, and tape. His face was taped except for two airholes at the nostrils. His ribs had been broken, and he had been tortured with four stabs in the chest, probably with garden shears. His throat had been cut open with a garden bow saw. However, the autopsy revealed no sexual molestation.
Whoever had done this, had slept in Miglin’s bed, left a half-eaten ham sandwich in the library, bathed in the sunken bathtub, and shaved in the white-marble bathroom, leaving beard stubble on the floor and in the sink. What a cheeky bastard. Could’ve at least cleaned up… a little Andy.? There also was a toy gun displayed on the sink, almost as if to taunt the police. The dog, a Labrador named Honey, which had been there the whole time, was calm and unharmed. thousands in cash and oddly several of Miglin’s suits were missing. As was Miglin’s sporty green Lexus.
The police were eager to interview Duke Miglin. He and the family said with absolute certainty neither Duke nor anyone in the family knew Cunanan. And had no idea how Dukes name surfaced. the police sat him down and said, ‘O.K., here’s where the rubber meets the road. Tell us now if you ever had a homosexual relationship, a secret life.’ He told them unequivocally he’s not gay and he has had no gay relationship.” Soon in a SF Examiner article on the killings, Another disturbing detail surfaced- an accountant friend of Cunanan's reported that Canaan and told him about his thrill of sadomasochistic sex- that he was into latex and facemasks with just the nostrils exposed.
Could Lee Miglin’s murder have been completely random, as his family maintains? “Why would Cunanan go to Chicago, find Miglin, and torture him without some motive?”He probably wouldn’t, - it’s highly probable that he knew Miglin,. Would Miglin let some stranger in off the street? Probably No. Either [Cunanan] knew of the guy or knew his son. The idea that he just picked him at random stalked him tortured him and then killed him is bizarre—and not the most likely scenario.”
Two days later Chicago police found Madsen's jeep illegally parked just around the corner from Midlands house. In it were newspaper clippings about trails and Madsens killings. By that time Kananen was presumed to be the driver of Miglan's green Lexus and far far away.
Friday evening May 9th. Victim number 4.
Cunanan was at a crossroads. He needed to ditch Miglin’s Lexus as he knew by now the authorities must know he took the car and was on a nationwide registry for fugitives. He exited a highway near Finns Point National Cemetery in Pennsville, New Jersey. Driving along some back roads, he spotted 45 yr old William Reese, a groundskeeper for the historic Civil War site. Reese cared for the grounds, a remote historic site where Confederate prisoners were held during the Civil War. When always punctual Reese didn’t come home from work on time, his wife drove from their home in Bridgeton, New Jersey, to check on him. When she arrived at the cemetery, she saw a dark-green Lexus but no sign of her husband’s bright-red late model Chevy truck. The door to the caretaker’s office was open, and a radio was playing. She called the police.
When the police began their search, they found Reese in a pool of blood on the concrete floor of the basement. He had been shot once in the head with a .40-caliber bullet - which later proved to have come from the same gun that killed Madson and later Versace. Reese is considered by clinicians who study serial killers a “functional homicide.” Unlike the other victims, Reese was probably murdered simply for his vehicle. Trail, Madson, and Miglin, however, carried the personal signature of what criminologists call a “pathological, sadistic sexual offender.”
CUNANAN ARRIVAL MIAMI
Soon details of Cunanan’s whereabouts for the two months following Reese’s murder, on May 9, began to emerge. Since May 12 he had been living under an assumed name in a low-rent, pink stucco, north-beachfront residence hotel, the Normandy Plaza, where he paid about $36 a day for a series of rooms. He left the hotel the Saturday before Versace was killed, skipping out on his last day’s rent. Cunanan had paid in cash and had reportedly never brought anyone to his room. The night manager at the hotel said that Cunanan frequently changed his appearance—sometimes his hair would be jet-black, other times almost white, sometimes curly, sometimes straight. It is thought that he kept a variety of wigs.
While at the Normandy Plaza, which is about four miles north of Versace’s house, Cunanan continued his practice of buying books and porno magazines. His meals were no longer from glitzy dining establishments but most often came from a nearby pizza joint. He still went out every night, all night, “dressed to the nines,” frequenting Boardwalk, a north-beach gay hustler bar where young men “go on the block” to strip for older patrons’ tips. Cunanan also patronized Twist, a very upscale gay bar a few blocks from Versace’s mansion.
Next door to Twist is the 11th Street Diner, A 24 hour eatery where The Who’s who, including Versace, mixed. It is also a favorite gathering spot for South Beach cops and politicians; the Miami Beach Police Department is right across the street. . Andrew Cunanan was seen in the diner too, right under the authorities’ noses.
When Versace arrived in town on Thursday, July 10, Cunanan was waiting.
To friends, cunanan often dropped Versace's name end it appears the two had met in the past. One night in October of 1990 at a San Francisco gay club called colossus, Versace and Cunanan apparently crossed paths. Versace was in town because he had designed costumes for the San Francisco Opera. According to an eyewitness, Versace seemed to recognize Cunanan. “I know you,” Versace said, wagging a finger in the then 21-year-old’s direction. “Lago di Como, no?” And Cunanan replied, smugly “Thank you for remembering, Signor Versace.” It’s unknown exactly if there really was anything to remember, or that Andrew Cunanan had ever been near Versace’s house on Lake Como. Later to a new acquaintance at the club Cunanan, still gushing over his Versace encounter boasted about the exchange quipping ‘If you’re Gianni Versace, then I’m Coco Chanel!’ Additionally a close friend of Cunanan's recalled clearly seeing Cunanan with Versace in a limousine while Versace was in town. Stating that while he was walking on Market Street on his way to another gay dance club a big white chauffeured car pulled up alongside him. Inside, he claims, were Cunanan, Versace, and a well-known San Francisco socialite Harry de Wildt.
It was 1997 and Versace was looking for a little downtime. He just wrapped up a wildly successful showing in Paris of his Atelier Versace Fall 1997 Couture collection, with his crown jewel Naomi Campbell front and center. There also was the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce event slated to honor him as its Citizen of the Year in November.
So he had come back to his Florida mansion to relax with his partner of 11 years, Antonio D’Amico. On July 15th at around 8:30 a.m., Versace took a stroll — as he often did — to the News Cafe, located about 10 minutes walk south at 800 Ocean Drive.
Simply clad in a white t-shirt, black shorts and sandals, Versace strolled down the street. It wasn’t unusual for the locals to see their world-famous neighbor and unofficial Mayor of South Beach out and about, enjoying their community.
Meanwhile Cunanan was milling around in the vicinity of Casa Casuarina patiently, nervously waiting for his target to arrive home. It is assumed Cunanan watched Versace leave for his morning stroll to the neighborhood cafe.
Versace got home Coffee in one hand and a handful of magazines under his arm, he started opening the gates into his oasis. He hadn’t been gone long. It was still before 9 a.m. and D’Amico was just inside, sipping coffee on the veranda near the entrance. Cunanan felt an immense rush of adrenaline as his prey was within reach. Like a big cat must feel lying in wait for the right moment to pounce.
Before Versace could step inside, Cunanan came out of nowhere and bound up the 5 stone steps behind Versace., He was dressed nondescript in a grey T-shirt, black shorts and white hat, and carrying a backpack. with a 0.40-caliber handgun, the one he had stolen from Jeff Trail and with which he murdered David Madson and William Reese, he shot two bullets into the back of the head of the global icon — in point-blank range. Cunanan then turned around and casually walked away briskly at first and then he ran. He cut left into an alley, then right down another alley, where he was captured on a hotel’s security camera. That alley was directly across 13th Street from a four-dollar-a-day municipal parking lot, where witnesses reported seeing the killer enter and apparently change clothes beside a late model red Chevy pickup truck, which proved to be the one that had been stolen from William Reese, the grounds keeper of the Civil War cemetery.. It was fitted with stolen South Carolina license plates.
Suddenly, it was as if time stood still in sunny Miami Beach.
Eyewitness Eddie Bianchi was at a shop nearby and ran toward the direction of the shots. It was too late to help. according to Bianchi blood was coming out like crazy pooling around him. He shook a little bit and stopped moving.
Inside the gates, an ominous feeling immediately came over D’Amico. “feeling as though his blood had turned to ice,” He and their butler jumped up. “The house had stained glass windows so we couldn’t see what had happened from inside, so we had to open the gate.” They opened to door to the horror - of Versace lying crumpled on the marble steps. For D’amico everything went dark and was pulled away back inside the mansion.
Versace was quickly transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, seven miles away. But by 9:15 am, he was pronounced dead at the age of 50.
While the police combed the Miami area, Versace’s shattered siblings, Donatella and Santo, flew in from Milan. Donnatella vowing to reporters they would carry the torch of the company for Gianni Versace- that she wouldn't let a nobody kill her brother twice. They claimed his body and returned to Italy, where, on July 22, 1997, one week after his murder, Versace was given a funeral fit for a King at the Duomo, Milan’s soaring 14th Century cathedral.
Camera crews jockeyed for space outside, and more than 2,000 people filed into the memorial, many of them wearing Versace: Naomi Campbell, his favorite model; Princess Diana, his most famous client. Elton John and Sting, his closest celebrity friends, closed the service with an emotional rendition of "The Lord is My Shepherd," As the song concluded, the sounds of weeping echoed throughout the church.
FINDING CUNANAN AT HOUSE BOAT
Andrew Cunanan’s whereabouts were unknown - The deadly spree culminating with Versace had landed Cunanan a spot as one of the F.B.I.’s 10 most wanted fugitives. Feather in his cap? Sightings came in to authorities from all over the country until 8 days after the killing.
On the morning of July 23rd, less than three miles north of Versace’s mansion, a caretaker checking on an unoccupied Miami houseboat anchored off Collins Avenue, discovered someone inside when he opened the front door. A single shot rang out with a deafening Echo. He bolted from the houseboat and immediately notified police, who moved in with a swat team. They tried to make communication with the intruder but were getting nowhere and decided to lobb tear gas into the houseboat.After 12 hours the police announced that they had found a body inside one of the rooms and positively identified him as Andrew Cunanan They said that He had shot himself in the mouth and left no suicide note. By staying behind in Miami after Versace’s murder, Cunanan had broken his usual pattern of stealing a new getaway car and leaving the vehicle tied to a previous killing behind. LAter the the F.B.I. revealed that within 2 days of Versace’s murder Cunanan had contacted an associate on the West Coast, asking for help in obtaining a false passport to leave the country.) Cunanan’s suicide brought an end to the nationwide manhunt, but it marked the beginning of nearly 25 years searching for answers to why.
One of the most striking aspects of Andrew Cunanan’s life is that while he was interested in fashion, art, literature, and travel, He had never in his life tried to work in a career that would put him in those worlds legitimately —his dead body was found next to a stack of magazines covering all those topics, including a copy of Vogue featuring Gianni Versace— He was, in this respect, the opposite of Gianni Versace.
There is conjecture, there are theories as to why, but In the end, no one knows for certain if these two vastly different men crossed paths before July 15, 1997, or why Cunanan singled Versace out for death that day. Was it decided Versace would be the final act in his spree? Or was it circumstance that ended it? What about David Madson and Jeff Trail? His murder spree began with Field. It can be assumed Madson was eliminated because he was a witness. But wouldn’t Madson try to escape? One Chicago police captain of the behavioral sciences unit says no. saying “It’s not surprising David stayed with him and he sat with the body for two days. Not at all,”: David thinking this guy’s got power over me, I can’t leave. The killing itself shows how powerful he is.”t is to a degree the Stockholm syndrome. These sexually sadistic offenders have that ability to control people—not necessarily physical control. Many times it’s just out of fear.”
The killing of William Reese is for lack of a better word, understandable. He needed a fresh set of wheels and in true serial killer fashion without any sense of guilt eliminated him. The most mysterious of the 5 murders however is the bizarre torture and murder of the wealthy Lee Miglin. This has continued to stump investigators for now more than 2 decades. Considering his wealth and the secrecy of the gamma mu society members, perhaps Miglin kept a space deep in the closet, secretly held a Gamma Mu membership and met Cunanan through those parties? That or his son Duke simply isn’t sharing all he knows. It’s simply an unsolved mystery- the sordid, lost, and destructive enigma that is Andrew Cunanan.
There has since been considerable criticism of the FBI that they weren’t more familiar with the gay world of South Florida, Andrew Cunanan…would never have been able to live freely there for two months,”“A nationwide manhunt that purportedly cost millions yielded little result.”
Today, the Versace empire, still privately owned by the family, is valued at $1.7 billion. With Donnatella at the helm.