They say that everyone wants to be famous. That deep down, when you get up there, in that spotlight and everyone is looking at you, clamoring for you, that it’s the greatest feeling in the world. Of course, there are dark sides to fame, things that ultimately make it seem like more of a curse.
There are some people who don’t care what it takes to be famous. They’ll record their wedding, redo their house, or appear naked on Youtube. Then, there are those whose inclination towards fame has much darker connotations and consequences for those who know them…
Rowe Between Friends
It was April and Jeffrey Trail, a former US naval officer turned propane salesman, was having an argument with his best friend Andrew. Jeff and Andrew had known each other for years and were so close that they considered one another to be like brothers. Unfortunately for them both though, Andrew’s short temper finally got the better of him that day.
Hide the Body
In a fit of rage, Andrew beat Jeff to death with a claw hammer. Then, he rolled his body in a rug and put it into the closet of his former lover and what he considered to be the unrequited love of his life, rising architect, David Madson. Despite the breakup, David and Andrew were still on speaking terms, but that was all about to change…
A month later David Madson’s body was found on the east shore of Rush Lake near Rush City, Minnesota. He had gunshot wounds to the head and back. Police would have been interested to discuss the matter with his former lover, but what they didn’t know was that he was already miles away: and working on his next victim…
Andrew, clearly in the midst of some sort of nervous breakdown, drove to Chicago and killed 72-year-old Lee Miglin, a prominent real estate developer. When they found his body, wrapped with duct tape and stabbed 20 times with a screwdriver, his throat sawed open with a hacksaw. Police realized that they were not dealing with your run-of-the-mill serial killer…
The young man’s name was Andrew Cunanan and he was born in National City, California. His father, Modesto “Pete” Cunanan, a Filipino American was a US Navy officer himself and had married Italian American, Mary Anne Schillaci at a young age. The two had four children, of which Andrew was the youngest. Little Andrew was the apple of their eye.
Andrew was bright, with a measured IQ of 147. He was talkative, charming, outgoing, and had a knack for being the center of attention. Eventually though, this got the better of him, and his teenage years found him developing a reputation as a prolific liar. The outlandish tales of his personal life were just a stepping stone to the even more dangerous lies still to come…
When Andrew was 19-year-old, his father left. He had gotten into some trouble and needed to avoid arrest for embezzlement. With only his mother left, Andrew decided to come out as gay, but the argument that followed was a small indication of Andrew’s soon-to-be-penchant for violence when he threw her into a wall and dislocated her shoulder.
Of course, if his parents had been more observant, they may have noticed that Andrew Cunanan’s knack for falsehood, his uncanny charms, and his hair-trigger towards violence were a clear indication that he may have indeed been a psychopath. From that point on, wherever he went, Cunanan craved attention, and after his first three murders, he was getting it…
Looking for Him
The violent murder of Lee Miglin prompted the FBI’s involvement in the case. They narrowed the suspects down to Cunanan and soon added him to their Ten Most Wanted list. Obviously nothing could have pleased Cunanan more. Five days later, Finn’s Point National Cemetery’s 45-year-old caretaker, William Reese, was found shot to death. His red pick-up truck was missing.
What a Scene
The FBI knew who it was and they knew they’d eventually catch him by following his very sloppy trail. What they FBI didn’t know was where he was going…though the stolen truck and a personal item he pawned would eventually lead them right to him: albeit a bit too late. Where Cunanan was headed, and what he would eventually do when he got there, was about to give him all the notoriety he ever needed…
Mayor of South Beach
Andrew Cunanan was staying in South Beach, Florida and laying as low as his desire for notoriety would allow him. Soon enough, he ran into the unofficial mayor of South Beach himself, designer Gianni Versace. The 50-year-old was openly gay and living with his longterm partner, Antonio D’Amico.
Cunanan, who was also a gay man, seemed to hit it off with Versace, at least upon first meeting, though they were never close. On the morning of July 15, 1997, the Italian founder got up early, made some calls to Milan, and headed out to News Café, just three blocks from his home for breakfast…
Versace bought a coffee, said hello to the manager, then grabbed his daily magazines and headed back to his mansion, Casa Casuarina. He’d spent millions on the palatial villa and it was his great project at the time. Then, as he sauntered up the steps and unlocked the heavy iron gate, Andrew Cunanan walked up behind him.
Cunana was wearing knee length shorts, a gray tank top, a baseball cap, and a backpack. Without warning, he shot shot Gianni Versace, twice, execution-style. Afterwards, he walked away as if nothing had happened. A witness, one of Versace’s neighbors, tried to chase him down on foot, but lost sight of him when he drove away in the stolen pick-up…
Most Wanted Man
Several hours later, the stolen truck, as well as Cunanan’s clothes, an alternative passport, and newspaper clippings of Cunanan’s murders, were found in a nearby parking garage. The FBi were informed and the 27-year-old became even more popular than he ever intended as his newest exploit dominated the news. A frantic manhunt soon began.
It was less than two weeks later when police, still searching for Andrew Cunanan, got a call that someone was living on a Houseboat off Miami Beach. Well…not living, not by the time they arrived anyway. As it happened, Andrew Cunanan had shot himself in the head with the same gun used to take the lives of three of his victims. It was the same gun that had belonged to Cunanan’s former best friend and first victim, Jeff Trail. That wasn’t all they found though…
The End But No Answers
Cunanan’s suicide obviously brought an end to the nationwide manhunt, but it wasn’t the end of the story by any stretch of the imagination. Police still had no answer for why Cunanan had killed all those people, though they believed the fatal outburst against Jeff Trail was the catalyst. They looked on the boat for answers but found only a few items including, multiple tubes of hydrocortisone cream and a fairly extensive collection of C. S. Lewis books.
Search the Boat
Yet books and cream do not a motive make and unfortunately for the ensuing investigation, Andrew Cunanan left no suicide note and few personal belongings. From what they knew about Cunanan’s history as a very high paid homosexual escort, they knew he had a reputation for acquiring money and expensive gifts from wealthy older men. But none could be found…
Ultimately, each of Cunanan’s horrific murders were determined to have different motives attached to them. Whether from jealousy, rage, necessity, or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the case of Gianni Versace, the “why” has always remained a mystery. Andrew Cunanan had told no one what he was going to do or why.
As there always are, rumors and theories abound as to Cunanan’s actual reasons for his ultimately fatal crime spree. Some say he went on the killing spree to find out who infected him with HIV. However, an autopsy revealed that he didn’t have the virus in the end. In the end, we may never find out what drove him to kill.