On this day 1997:
Eccentric Italian Fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered by 27-year-old serial killer Andrew Cunanan on the steps outside Versace’s South Beach mansion in Miami, Florida.
As of late 1996, Cunanan had no criminal record prior to being dumped by his wealthy gay lover in California. He then moved to Minneapolis and on April 27, 1997, Cunanan killed his ex-lover David Madison and his friend Jeffrey Trail. He then escaped in Madson’s red Jeep Cherokee.
Two days later Cunanan entered the home of wealthy developer Lee Miglin, beat him to death, and stole his Lexus. By May 9, Cunanan’s face was all over the airwaves as a wanted fugitive so he needed another car. He killed a cemetery caretaker William Reese and stole his red pickup truck.
With a massive FBI manhunt for Cunanan underway, he arrived Miami Beach on May 11 and checked into Normandy Plaza Hotel. He spent his time doing drugs, eating fast food, stealing, and going to gay clubs seeking older wealthy partners.
On July 11 he was recognized by a fast-food worker who had seen his picture on America’s Most Wanted tv show. But he left before the police arrived. By the 14th of July Cunanan left the hotel without paying his bill. The next day he shot Versace to death outside his South Beach mansion.
A nationwide manhunt for Cunanan commenced. On July 23, the police found his body in a boathouse not far from Versace’s home. He died from a self-inflicted bullet wound from the same gun that took the lives of three of his victims.
He left no suicide note. Although Cunanan and Versace were both openly gay, there was no evidence to suggest that they had ever met and thus till date, the motive behind the murder of one of the most flamboyant fashion designers in history remains a mystery.