Andrew Cunanan


Andrew Cunanan

Andrew Cunanan
Birth name Andrew Philip Cunanan
Born August 31, 1969(1969-08-31)
National City, California, United States
Died

July 23, 1997 (aged 27)
Miami Beach, Florida, United States

Cause of Death Suicide by gunshot
Killings
Date April 25, 1997 – July 15, 1997
Location(s) Minneapolis and Rush City, Minnesota, Chicago, Illinois, Pennsville Township, New Jersey, Miami Beach, Florida
Killed 5
Weapon(s) Taurus semi-automatic pistol (.40)

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.

Contents

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Early life

Cunanan was born in National City, California, the youngest of four children to Modesto Cunanan and Mary Anne Shilacci. 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, but he was often bullied. 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.[1]

After graduating from high school in 1987, he became a student at University of California, San Diego, where he majored in American history.[2]

After graduating from UCSD, he settled in the Castro District of San Francisco.[1] There, he frequented high-class gay bars and prostituted himself to wealthy, older men.[1]

When Cunanan was 19, his father abandoned the family.[1] That same year, his mother found out about his homosexuality; during the ensuing argument, Cunanan threw her against a wall and dislocated her shoulder.[1]

Before the murders, Cunanan was involved in petty theft and drug dealing.[3]

Murders

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.[4] 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.[5] Police recognized a connection, as Trail’s body had been found in Madson’s Minneapolis loft apartment.[citation needed]

Cunanan next drove to Chicago and killed 72-year-old Lee Miglin, a prominent real estate developer, on May 4, 1997.[6] 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 on May 9, 1997.[6] Following this murder, the first of a non-acquaintance, the FBI added him to its Ten Most Wanted list. 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.[7] He even used his own name to pawn a stolen item, knowing that police routinely check pawn shop records for stolen merchandise.[8] Finally, Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace, on July 15, 1997.[9]

The gun used by Cunanan for the murders was a Taurus semi-automatic pistol in .40 S&W caliber, which had been left behind in California by first victim Jeff Trail when he relocated to the Midwest.[4]

Eight da
ys after murdering Versace, on July 23, 1997, Cunanan shot himself in the head in the upstairs bedroom aboard a Miami houseboat.[10]

Motive

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.[11]

Police searched the houseboat where Cunanan died in order to piece together a motive for his killing spree.[12] However, Cunanan left behind few personal belongings, surprising investigators, given his reputation for acquiring money and expensive possessions from wealthy, older men.[12] 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.[12]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Geringer, Joseph.“Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster: Andrew’s World”
  2. ^ Famous Criminals: Andrew Cunanan
  3. ^ Black, Donald W., Larson, C. Lindon. Bad boys, bad men: confronting antisocial personality disorder
  4. ^ a b “Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster – Trail and Madson” (analysis), Crime Library.com, Courtroom Television Network LLC, 2005.
  5. ^ America’s Most Wanted: Andrew Cunanan
  6. ^ a b Kastor, Elizabeth, Weeks, Linton. “Five Lives Cut Short” Washington Post. July 17, 1997.
  7. ^ Geringer, Joseph. “Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster: Unlike a Fugitive”
  8. ^ Phillips, Andrew. “Versace’s Killer Kills Self” Maclean’s August 4, 1997.
  9. ^ Lecayo, Richard. “Tagged for Murder”. Time Magazine, June 21, 2001.
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (July 25, 1997). “Suspect’s Suicide Brings Relief and Normality“. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/25/us/suspect-s-suicide-brings-relief-and-normality.html. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  11. ^ “Who is Andrew Cunanan?”, CNN.com, 17 July 1997.
  12. ^ a b c Dirk Cameron Gibson, Serial Murder and Media Circuses, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. p. 138.

Further reading

  • Three Month Fever, by Gary Indiana. ISBN 0-06-019145-7
  • Vulgar Favors, by Maureen Orth. ISBN 0-385-33286-6
  • The A-to-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, by Harold Schecter & David Everitt. ISBN 0-671-02074-9

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