20 Years Later, Motive In Killing Of Designer Gianni Versace Remains A Mystery

MIAMI (CBSNewYork) –The 20th anniversary of the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace is approaching. It was a crime that attracted worldwide attention, and still has many unanswered questions.

On the morning of July 15, 1997, Andrew Cunanan walked up behind Gianni Versace on the steps in front of his South Beach mansion and shot him twice in the back of the head.

“The good thing was, we knew withing a matter of a couple of hours we were looking for Andrew Cunanan,” Carlos Noriega, Miami Beach Police Department said, “What made this even more surreal at the time was now we are looking for one of America’s ten most wanted FBI subjects.”

Before killing Versace, Cunanan — who was a failing gigolo — had gone on a cross country killing spree, taking the lives of four men; Jeffrey Trail, David Madsen, Lee Migling, and William Reese.

After Versace was shot, the manhunt for Cunanan went into overdrive.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, the break came just days later when a caretaker was checking on a houseboat. It appeared someone may have been inside. When he entered, he heard a gunshot.

Cunanan was found in the upstairs bedroom, with a single shot to the head. Carlos Noriega believes that when Cunanan heard the caretaker enter the houseboat, he feared it was the police, and he killed himself.

“It aligns with the profile and his life, and his behavior, and his character, and personality that he wanted to control everything including the way he died,” Noriega said.

Noriega would go on to become the Miami Beach Police Chief, and while Cunanan’s motive is still unclear, he’s proud of how his department handled the case.

“His reign of terror stopped in Miami Beach. He did not get an opportunity to kill somebody else, go somewhere else, or escape, and never be found again,” Noriega said.

Some are still searching for answers in the case.

The biggest question is motive. Officer Noriega believes Versace and Cunanan may have met in the past. Others believe Cunanan killed Versace so he would become famous.

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