Badpuppy Gay Today

Thursday 24 July, 1997


Homeowner's Account of Houseboat Drama Two Blocks Distant
Startling New Facts About the Houseboat-Area and Police

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday


A few years ago, says a GayToday source, "there was handwriting on the wall in a public men's room directly across from the present-day bath house owner's houseboat near 52nd Street and Collins Avenue. I don't know who lived there then or whether the writing's still there, but I clearly remember that the handwriting said, "If you're looking for action in the houseboat across the street by the flagpole 12 noon-5 P.M." This recollection comes from a man who lives in a neighborhood, as does gay activist Bob Kunst, only two blocks distant from the drama that surrounded Cunanan's final fatal shot.

Some are asking, did Cunanan fire the final shot himself? Why did police fail to find him in the first houseboat search, and then go back and find his body? Even Wednesday's Nightline, gave suspicious focus to several odd stories that surfaced, including the refusal of police to say definitely that the dead suspect was Cunanan, an announcement which CNN finally made at 1:30 A.M. EST. A murder-matching 40 caliber gun was found, but discounted as a common weapon by police.

Bob Kunst, who has provided GayToday with near-the-spot details about the massive police presence in his immediate neighborhood, asks "From no body at 9 P.M. to 'preliminary' Cunanan at 11 P.M.? If true, this leaves many unanswered questions."

At two blocks distance from the houseboat, Kunst faxed this account to GayToday:

"As I'm typing there's the sound of helicopters over my home. There have been four media copters circling overhead, which I saw about 6:10 P.M. NBC is covering the houseboat where police have converged and closed down the streets from 41st to 58th."

Kunst tells of the two story houseboat itself, owned by Torsten Reinick, a German bath house owner whose place of business, the Apollo Spa and Health Club, is located a few blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip.

"People are waving to the copter from the balconies, while SWAT teams are spread along nearby houseboats and police boats on the Intercoastal. It's getting dark...

"Miami Beach police were supposed to have had a news conference at 3 P.M. which was canceled; and a little after 4 P.M. this houseboat event began.

"A caretaker for the houseboat arrived to check it out and two shots were fired and he runs and calls the police and now this and all of it around 52nd Street, and our house on 49th Street, two blocks distant between the water/houseboat and us.

"NBC announces that Cunanan has four aliases and two of them were Henrick and Kurt and I call them to check with Interpol if these German sounding names may be of other 'victims' and this Cunanan's new identity.

"8:03 PM. I just heard a shot and Channel 4 is reporting several shots were fired. Three shots or concussion grenades, and smoke rising.

"Worry: that the person on boat jumps off and swims across Indian Creek into our area. Police dogs are at the estate homes across from the houseboat.

"Police have asked media not to show houseboat and police who might be seen on TV in the houseboat. Flurry of activity.

"(Miami Beach) Mayor Gelber tells NBC that the huge police action is a result of a string of bad press items critiquing Miami Beach police incompetence."

"Just heard another bang," says Kunst, or "maybe I'm just hearing things. It's nerve racking. It's 8:27 P.M. A total of nine teargas shots have been fired into the houseboat. Big crowd behind police tape barrier set up with media there. Not staying in their homes. Wanting to be in the excitement.

"8:34 P.M. Flashlights are in the houseboat. Police have entered. There was a small rain and two police are flat on the ground by the fountain in front of the houseboat. There's a light at one of two windows on the second floor of the houseboat."

"Ambulance with lights flashing is moving to houseboat but no siren. Minneapolis FBI coordinating 5 FBI offices, twice daily, and 1,000 leads generated by the media.

"8:42 P.M. Channel 4, 6, 7, 10, MSNBC Channel 51 are now 'live'.

"Six police have entered with shields. Al Boza of Miami Beach Police is on phone says no one was on the boat and thorough search goes on.

"Maybe there was a scuba escape?"

"Not quite. Nearly two hours later police, upon a return to the two story houseboat, reversed their original finding, and said, according to one source, that a body had been found on the houseboat's second floor and that it might well be Cunanan."

At a hastily called press conference, Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barretto told reporters that his force would not make an immediate identification of Cunanan, though the body did appear to be his. He used the phrase "preliminary Cunanan," to indicate the identity of the apparent suicide.

Wednesday's edition of The Miami Herald told how Miami Beach police made stinging criticisms of the Versace family, criticisms about how the murdered man's relatives refused investigators entry to the Versace mansion for two and-a-half days following the murder. The Versace family, through a lawyer, denied this charge, explaining at the same time that the murder had occurred outside.

The Herald also gave attention to police bungling at the Normandy Hotel where Cunanan reportedly stayed. A TV reporter, says the Miami area newspaper, searched the suspect's room prior to police officers' arrival.

Florida Today's Wednesday (State Section B) edition headlined its critical article: "FBI's Slips Let Cunanan Loose."

First to criticize police was gay activist Bob Kunst in GayToday, "and to criticize them for eight days straight!" he reminds the newsmagazine. The controversial crusader has seemed to enjoy tweaking "old-fashioned gay city hall appeasers who completely refuse to look at Miami Beach police behavior for what it is."

Wednesday's New York Times coverage of Gianni Versace's memorial service in Milan also makes mention of police bungling:

"In the United States, the FBI acknowledged yesterday that the authorities had the suspect in Mr. Versace's killing, Andrew Cunanan, within reach, but missed a number of chances to apprehend him before the killing."

Shortly before 6 A.M today CNN announced that Miami Beach police have finally accurately described Andrew Patrick Cunanan as dead. Precisely how he died is still a mystery.

For more on Cunanan read our past articles from
July 16, 1997
July 18, 1997
July 21, 1997
July 22, 1997
July 23, 1997

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