Andrew Cunanan was 27-years-old when he led a three-month killing spree in 1997 that resulted in the deaths of five men, one of whom was famed fashion designer Gianni Versace.
After murdering these men, Cunanan proceeded to commit suicide on the second floor of Miami houseboat. He used the same gun that he’d used to kill three of his victims– Madson, Reese, and Versace.
According to a July 1997 article in the New York Times, Cunanan tried to acquire a fake passport in the days before his death– he presumably hoped to escape before investigators found him.
Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto said in a news conference shortly after his death, “He was a desperate person with very little room to move about… I’m happy that this has been brought to closure without another victim.”
The manhunt for Cunanan after Versace’s death (and after the deaths of his prior victims) involved the work of more than 1,000 FBI agents across the country, according to the New York Times. Authorities determined after his death that Cunanan had likely spent the nine days between Versace’s death and his own suicide in Miami Beach.
According to ABC News, an employee at a sandwich shop in Miami called police three days before Versace’s murder to say they’d recognized a man who resembled Cunanan based on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted” he’d watched.
On the morning of July 15, 1997, Versace left his home for the News Cafe, a popular newsstand along Ocean Drive. Sgt. George Navarro, a lead investigator for the Miami Beach police department, told ABC at the time, “As he’s walking up the stairs [to his home], what we know now to be Andrew Cunanan, comes up behind him and shoots him twice in the head at point blank range. One shot hits the left side of his face, the other shot hits the right side of his neck, and he goes down.”
Versace was supposed to play tennis that afternoon with his good friend Lazaro Quintana, who claims he witnessed Cunanan running away after shooting the fashion designer. “I run out the door and Gianni was laying there. I check his artery to see if he was– nothing. He was gone.” He told police that he chased after Cunanan, but when a gun was pointed at him, he stopped.
ABC reports that a caretaker for a houseboat called the police eight days after Versace’s death to say he believed someone was living inside one of the boat’s he was looking after. He’d entered the houseboat to see who was inside, and as soon as he did so, he heard a gunshot.
When FBI and SWAT team entered the boat, they found Cunanan dead. Navarro tells ABC News, “When we first entered the home, we kind of had to back out because the gas was so, so strong. Seemed like he’d been there for several days,” recalled Navarro, now CEO of Navarro Consulting Group. “I went up the staircase and that’s where we found Andrew Cunanan lying on the bed … The gun was consistent with someone that had shot themselves in the mouth.”
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