Andrew Cunanan

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Andrew Cunanan
Andrew Cunanan in April 1997
Andrew Cunanan in April 1997
FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive
Charges Serial murder
Alias David Morales
Born Andrew Phillip Cunanan
(1969-08-31)August 31, 1969
National City, California, U.S
Died July 24, 1997(1997-07-24) (aged 27)
Miami Beach, Florida, U.S
Added June 12, 1997
Number 449
Deceased prior to capture

Andrew Phillip Cunanan (August 31, 1969 – July 24, 1997) was an American serial killer[1] who murdered at least five people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace, during a three-month period in 1997. On June 12, 1997, Cunanan became the 449th fugitive to be listed by the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The killing spree ended with Cunanan's suicide. He was 27 years old.

Early life[edit]

A collection of photos from the FBI, showing the ease with which Cunanan could change his appearance.[2]

Cunanan was born in National City, California, to Modesto Cunanan, a Filipino American, and Mary Anne Schillaci, an Italian American, the youngest of four children. Modesto Cunanan was serving in the US Navy in the Vietnam War at the time of his son's birth.

In 1981, Andrew's 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.[3] As a teenager, however, 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.[2][dead link]

When he was 19, his father deserted his family to avoid arrest for embezzlement.[2] That same year, his mother learned that Cunanan was gay. During an ensuing argument, he threw her against a wall, dislocating her shoulder.[2] Later examination of his behavior from reports indicate that he may have suffered from antisocial personality disorder, a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy (earlier known as psychopathy).[4]

After graduating from high school in 1987, he enrolled at the University of California, San Diego, where he majored in American history.[5] After dropping out, he settled in the Castro District of San Francisco.[2] While there, he frequented high-class gay bars and sold sex to wealthy older men,[2] and became involved in petty theft and drug dealing.[6]


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.[7]

The next victim was architect David Madson, whose body was found on the east shore of Rush Lake near Rush City, Minnesota, on April 29, 1997, with gunshot wounds to the head.[8] Police recognized a connection, as Trail's body had been found rolled up in a rug in a closet in Madson's Minneapolis loft apartment.[9]

Cunanan next drove to Chicago and killed 72-year-old Lee Miglin, a prominent real estate developer, on May 4, 1997.[10] Following this murder, the FBI added him to its Ten Most Wanted list.

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.[10] 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.[11] He even used his own name to pawn a stolen item, knowing that police routinely check pawn shop records for stolen merchandise.[12]

On July 15, 1997, Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace.[13] A witness attempted to pursue him but could not catch him. The vehicle he used, as well as the clothes he had just been wearing, an alternative passport, and newspaper clippings of his murders, were found in a nearby garage by the police who responded.[4]


On July 24, 1997, eight days after murdering Versace, Cunanan shot himself on the right temple of his head in the upstairs bedroom of a Miami houseboat. He used the same gun he had used to kill Madson and Miglin,[4][14] a Taurus PT100 semi-automatic pistol in .40 S&W caliber, which had been stolen from the first victim, Jeff Trail.[7] His cremated remains are interred in the Mausoleum at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in San Diego, California.[15]


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.[16][17]

In order to piece together a motive for his killing spree, police searched the boathouse where Cunanan died.[18] However, Cunanan left behind few personal belongings, surprising investigators, given his reputation for acquiring money and expensive possessions from wealthy older men.[18] 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.[18][19][20]

His motivations remain a mystery. Various theories include jealousy for Versace's role as a "gay icon", as well as necessity and opportunity in some of the other murders.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Cunanan will be portrayed by Darren Criss in the third season of American Crime Story.[21]


  1. ^ "FBI — Serial Killers, Part 6: Andrew Cunanan Murders a Fashion Icon". FBI. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Geringer, Joseph."Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster: Andrew's World"
  3. ^ Orth, Maureen (14 June 2000). Vulgar Favors. Dell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-440-22585-0. 
  4. ^ a b c Danielle Esposito; John E. Douglas; Ann W. Burgess; Allen G. Burgess (2006). "Case Study: Andrew Cunanan". In John E. Douglas; Ann W. Burgess; Allen G. Burgess. Crime classification manual: a standard system for investigating and classifying violent crimes (2 ed.). John Wiley and Sons. pp. 448–452. ISBN 978-0-7879-8501-1. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Famous Criminals: Andrew Cunanan". Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  6. ^ Black, Donald W., Larson, C. Lindon. Bad boys, bad men: confronting antisocial personality disorder
  7. ^ a b "Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster - Trail and Madson" (analysis), Crime, Courtroom Television Network LLC, 2005.
  8. ^ "''America's Most Wanted'': Andrew Cunanan". Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  9. ^ "New Twist In Miglin Case". Chicago Tribune. 8 May 1997. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Kastor, Elizabeth, Weeks, Linton. "Five Lives Cut Short" Washington Post. July 17, 1997.
  11. ^ Geringer, Joseph. "Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster: Unlike a Fugitive"
  12. ^ Phillips, Andrew. "Versace's Killer Kills Self" Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Maclean's August 4, 1997.
  13. ^ Lecayo, Richard. "Tagged for Murder". Time Magazine, June 21, 2001.
  14. ^ Janofsky, Michael (July 25, 1997). "Suspect's Suicide Brings Relief and Normality". The New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Andrew Phillip Cunanan (1969 - 1997) - Find A Grave Memorial". 
  16. ^ "Who is Andrew Cunanan?" Archived January 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.,, 17 July 1997.
  17. ^ Cunanan, Andrew - Autopsy report #1997-01742, Miami Medical Examiner.
  18. ^ a b c Dirk Cameron Gibson, Serial Murder and Media Circuses, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. p. 138.
  19. ^ "This Day in History: July 15: Gianni Versace Killed". Maxim. July 2009. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. 
  20. ^ Tyler Stoddard Smith, Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World's Oldest Profession, p. 172
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 15, 2017). "Edgar Ramirez & Darren Criss To Star In 'Versace: American Crime Story' On FX". Deadline. Retrieved February 16, 2017. 


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