20 years later: A look back at the 'Versace' murders

Friday, July 07, 2017 06:55PM
Andrew Cunanan's killing spree in 1997 ended with the murder of Gianni Versace


It has been nearly 20 years since Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace and at least four other people were murdered by socialite hopeful-turned-serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

Investigators said in Cunanan's final years, he was a hustler who preyed on wealthy older men, spending money on lavish trips, meals and at social events.

Here's a closer look at the five lives that were taken during Cunanan's three-month killing spree:

April 25, 1997: Minneapolis
Jeffrey Trail only knew Cunanan as an acquaintance back in San Diego. After Trail moved to Minneapolis, Cunanan stalked the former U.S. naval officer and salesman before beating him to death with a claw hammer, according to investigators.

Trail's body was rolled inside a rug and left in the apartment closet of David Madson.

Madson was Cunanan's lover, and investigators said his body was found days later at Rush Lake in Minnesota. Madson had been shot to death, with gunshot wounds found on his head and back.

May 4, 1997: Chicago
Next, Cunanan drove to the Windy City and attacked 72-year-old Lee Miglin. When the victim's body was found, his limbs were duct taped, and investigators said he had been stabbed more than 20 times with a screwdriver. Miglin's throat was also sliced open with a hacksaw.

The FBI put out an alert for Cunanan, who was on its Ten Most Wanted List.

A possible connection between Cunanan and Miglin was never found.

"I can tell you unequivocally that we have not found a link between Andrew Cunanan and anyone in the Miglin family," Matt Rodriguez, former Chicago police superintendent, told ABC News in 1997.

May 9, 1997: Pennsville, New Jersey
After stealing Miglin's car, investigators said Cunanan murdered 45-year-old William Reese at the Finn's Point National Cemetery. He fatally shot Reese in the head, and then drove his pickup truck to Miami Beach.

In the two months after Reese's death, the FBI said Cunanan lived in Miami, hiding from authorities.

July 15, 1997: Miami
Cunanan's final murder happened as designer Gianni Versace was on the front stairway of his mansion. Two gunshots rang out before Versace collapsed and died.

A bystander attempted to chase Cunanan, but told police he was unable to catch him.

Abandoned nearby were William Reese's red pickup truck, the clothing he was wearing at the time of Versace's death, and newspaper articles detailing his killings across the country.

There is still no definitive answer whether Cunanan had a personal connection to Versace.

July 24, 1997: Cunanan's suicide
Nine days after killing Versace, Cunanan found himself on a Miami houseboat with few other places to go. Investigators said he used the same gun used to kill Madson, Reese and Versace with to shoot himself in his right temple.

The FBI found only a few personal belongings near Cunanan's body, including a large collection of C.S. Lewis books and a few tubes of hydrocortisone cream.

He was cremated in San Diego, where his remains are interred.

Why did Cunanan do it?
While a motive was never officially disclosed, FBI records obtained by ABC News in 2014 allege Cunanan feared he was HIV-positive and sought revenge against anyone who could have infected him.

An autopsy, however, showed Cunanan was HIV negative.

"If I had AIDS or if someone did that to me I would go on a five-state killing spree and take everyone with me I could," Cunanan was quoted as telling friends before the spree began.

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