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People don't know me. They think they do, but they don't.

Andrew Phillip Cunanan was an American serial/spree killer, stalker, assassin, and robber most famous for being responsible for the murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace.


Cunanan was born on August 31, 1969, as the youngest of his family in San Diego. His parents' marriage was troubled and he would often go to his room to escape the tension. His father Modesto was a Filipino-born U.S. Navy serviceman who then retired from the job and later became a stockbroker when Cunanan was a child. His mother Mary Ann (née Shillaci) was Italian American. During his high school years, he left the public school system and enrolled in the prestigious Bishop's School. Being highly intelligent, he did very well there and was said to be fluent in seven languages. Even though he was openly gay among his fellow students, he was still very well-liked and popular. At the age of 15, he began going to gay bars, often in disguise in order to hide his age and ethnicity. His ploys usually worked splendidly and often even fooled people with whom he had socialized the previous evening. In 1987, aged 18, he graduated from the Bishop's School and was, somewhat ironically (in more than one way), listed as "Most Likely to Be Remembered". Though he became a history student at the University of San Diego, his nightlife took its toll on his studies. At gay bars, he began charming older, wealthy, gay men, who would bring him along to social functions as a "secretary" or "associate" and often give him gifts. One such gift was a $30,000 car. While Cunanan made good money of his lifestyle, his parents were not as well off; his father wasn't very successful as a stockbroker and had lost his positions at several agencies. The last time, he was facing charges of embezzling $106 000 and was forced to flee the country. Mrs. Cunanan, abandoned, had to move to a less flattering neighborhood.

Cunanan Child

Young Cunanan (seated in cart) with his mother and siblings.

Around this time, she learned that Cunanan was gay. The argument they had resulted in her dislocating her shoulder after he pushed her. After dropping out of his university studies, Cunanan visited his father in the Philippines and was ashamed to see him reduced to the poverty in which he lived. He then frequented local gay bars until he had saved up enough to return to the States. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he returned to his usual barhopping and took on some new identities. At one point, he met Eli Gould, a well-connected lawyer, and soon found himself attending all kinds of high-profile events. At one such function, he met Gianni Versace, who allegedly mistook him for someone else. Since Cunanan was used to lying about his identity, he didn't correct him. As Cunanan grew older, his darker sides began emerging; he had roles in pornographic movies featuring sadistic acts and started deriving pleasure from pain and humiliation. In spite of his dampened mood, he was still invited to festivities, but friends and acquaintances noticed how he was changing. In 1997, when he was 27, the wealthy, older gay men he had been associated with had moved on and he was growing older. He began gaining weight and his once well-groomed hair became long and unkempt. When he exhibited some symptoms associated with AIDS, he became confident that he had the disease. Though he went to a doctor early in the year and had himself tested, he never returned for the results. Had he done so, he would have learned that they came back negative. Cunanan also started committing petty theft, prostituting himself and dealing painkillers, which he sometimes also abused in combination with vodka.

Murders and Death[]

Wanted Andrew Cunanan

Cunanan's FBI wanted poster.

In April, Cunanan’s life finally collapsed completely when he became convinced that two of his lovers, Jeffrey Trail, a former naval officer, and David Madson, an architect, were seeing each other behind his back. He was also bothered by the fact that they were both much more professional and successful than him while he was failing. When Cunanan called Trail, he denied they were seeing each other, causing Cunanan to hang up angrily. He then flew to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and was picked up by Madson and taken to his home, where they, according to friends, were planning to convince him that they weren't involved. Unfortunately, Cunanan and Trail got into a heated argument despite Madson's attempts to mediate between them. Finally, an enraged Cunanan bashed Trail's skull in with a hammer taken from a kitchen drawer, killing him. Madson then helped him roll the body in a rug. They then spent the next two days pretending as though nothing had happened. This came to an end when the building manager found the body, forcing Cunanan and Madson to flee from Minneapolis. Realizing that he was enjoying the feeling of being on a spree, Cunanan pulled over in a country lane leading to Duluth and shot Madson dead with a gun that had been left in his possession by Trail when he moved. On May 4, Cunanan attacked Lee Miglin, an elderly, successful real-estate developer, in Chicago. He was tied up with duct tape, tortured, his throat cut and his remains run over with his own Lexus, which Cunanan then stole and kept driving with. On May 9, he held up a caretaker, William Reese, in Pennsville, New Jersey, forced him to give him the keys to his truck and then shot him even though he complied. He then drove away in the car, leaving the Lexus behind. He then made his way to Miami Beach, Florida, where he rented a hotel room by the month.

Cunanan signature

Cunanan's signature

Though he frequented the local gay bars and was seen by a number of people and the police were aware of these sightings, they failed to make the information public, allowing him to move as freely as ever. It wasn't until June 9 that he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, having been seen near Miglin's home and pictures of him having been found in Madson's car. After roughly two months of barhopping, Cunanan followed Gianni Versace home from a café on July 15 and shot him execution-style. Even though his final murder had made Cunanan infamous, he was still able to stay hidden. On July 7, Cunanan had pawned some gold coins stolen from Miglin, boldly using his real name and the hotel address for the paperwork. When it was faxed to the Miami Beach PD as required by law, the papers ended up on the desk of a clerk who was on vacation and was discovered mere hours after Versace's murder.

Cunanan suicide

Miami Dade Officer at Cunanan's suicide scene.

At one point, a SWAT team raided the hotel room at which Cunanan was believed to be living, only to find no trace of him. Two days later, the hotel staff realized that they had given the investigators the wrong room number by mistake. On July 23, Cunanan was staying in a house-boat in the Miami Beach harbor. When a Portuguese caretaker went to check on his client's boat, he saw Cunanan and startled him. After a standoff, he shot himself in the boat's master bedroom with the same gun he had used to kill Madson, Reese, and Versace. He was 27 at the time of his death.

Modus Operandi[]

Cunanan gun

The PT100 used by Cunanan.

Cunanan’s victims were all men of different ages and professions, three of whom were directly or indirectly connected to him. The other two were random acts of violence perpetrated either out of necessity or just for enjoyment. He killed three of his five victims with a .40 S&W Taurus PT100 (a variant of the PT92) semi-automatic handgun, the same he used to kill himself. His first victim, Trail, had his skull bashed in with a hammer. His third victim, Miglin, was tied up and his entire face except the nose covered with duct tape, beaten, stabbed in the chest with a pair of pruning shears, his throat slashed slowly with a hacksaw, and then his body was run over with his own car.


Cunanan was said to be a narcissistic individual, obsessed with how others perceived him and his appearance. He also may, or may not, have suffered from psychopathy (though much probably he did). He compulsively searched for attention, fame, and success, all of which his father had taught him to crave. Andrew was also a pathological liar (partly because of the need to evade from his dysfunctional family life), and enraged at people discarding, underestimating, but most of all abandoning him (he was diagnosed as suffering from borderline personality disorder).

His first murder was much probably an act of jealousy and impulse, but during the course of his killing spree, he may had become convinced that he was somehow impervious to capture, and he kept on killing, without even worrying about leaving behind corpses and traces. The Miglin murder seems to have been committed out of sheer thrill, sadism and power seeking, while also representing Cunanan's first murder of the older, wealthy man type, which he strongly resented. The Versace murder bears resemblance to an assassination motivated by Erotomania, as he deliberately targeted a man whom he was obsessed with, and whom represented all what Andrew Cunanan concretely couldn't be, also granting himself nation-wide notoriety in a small amount of time.

Cunanan's classification as either a serial or spree killer is currently a controversial point. He possessed elements common in both: He did kill each of his victims individually and had cooling-off periods in-between (that grew from as little as two days to eight), but he also acted impulsively, committed murders out of necessity, and committed suicide before he could be captured.

Known Victims[]

Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace.

  • Unspecified date in 1988 or 1989: Mary Anne Schillaci (his mother; assaulted; threw her against a wall and dislocated her shoulder)
  • 1997:
    • April 27, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Jeffrey Trail (bludgeoned with a hammer and stole his gun)
    • May 2, Rush Lake, Minnesota: David Madson (his lover; shot 1 time in head and 3 times in back, body found hours later)
    • May 4, Chicago, Illinois: Lee Miglin (beaten, stabbed in the chest with pruning shears, slashed his throat with a hacksaw, and run over post-mortem; stole his car)
    • May 9, Pennsville, New Jersey: William Reese (robbed and shot at point-blank range, left Miglin's car and stole Reese's pick up truck)
    • July 15, Miami Beach, Florida: Gianni Versace (shot execution-style)

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Season One
    • "Charm and Harm" - Cunanan was mentioned as an example of spree/serial killers who saved their most important murders for last. He also appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Mark Gregory - Both were interstate serial/spree killers who attacked their mothers (though Gregory killed his mother), had been in relationships with at least one of the first victims of their sprees, were set off by finding out their partners were having affairs (though Gregory was the mister of the affair in his case), made similar small changes to their appearances for disguises while on the run, devolved and targeted victims at random, were profiled as saving their most important killings for last (of which this was confirmed for Cunanan, but Gregory's first murder was his most important), and ended said sprees in Florida by suicide (though Gregory did so by committing suicide by cop, while Cunanan killed himself directly).
  • Season Five
    • "Parasite" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Cunanan appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Bill Hodges - Both were spree killers who used various fake identities for their own ends, slept with many of their victims, devolved when they found out their victims were interacting with each other, killed at least one victim by bludgeoning, reportedly operated in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and also San Diego, and both their killing sprees ended with suicide by gunshot in some way (Hodges committed suicide by cop, while Cunanan shot himself directly).
  • Season Eight
    • "Broken" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Cunanan appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Paul Westin - Both were homosexual serial/spree killers who had a strained relationship with one of their parents due to their sexuality (Cunanan with his mother, Westin with his father), killed their first victim (who were also their lovers) by bludgeoning, at least one by stabbing, and two others by shooting, both victimized their abusive parent in some way (Cunanan assaulted his mother, while Westin killed his father), and both attempted suicide by gunshot after their killing sprees (though only Cunanan was successful, while Westin was talked down).
  • Season Thirteen
  • Season Fourteen
    • "Rule 34" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Cunanan appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Emmanuel Rask - Both were narcissistic and homosexual spree killers and stalkers who were popular in school despite their sexuality, starred in disturbing films, committed an assault prior to their killings, their killings were seemingly triggered when their lovers left them, and as killers they targeted men (including said lovers, who were their first victims), killed them in a variety of ways (including torture and mutilation with sharp tools), were both profiled as being narcissistic attention-seekers, and were hunted by the FBI.


  • Wikipedia's article about Cunanan
  • TruTV Crime Library articles about Cunanan
  • Evil Beyond Belief (2009), ISBN: 978-1-84837-000-5
  • 101 Crimes of the Century (2008), ISBN: 9781741106398
  • Douglas, John E., Ann W. Burgess, R.N., D.N Sc., Allen G. Burgess, Robert K. Ressler. Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books. 1992. ISBN: 978-0-669-24638-4
  • Douglas, John E., Mark Olshaker. The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals. New York: Scribner. 1999. ISBN: 978-0-684-84598-2