Badpuppy Gay Today

Wednesday, 16 July 1997


Cunanan Suspect in Targeted Shooting of World Renowned Designer
Miami Beach Is the Nervous Scene of an Early Morning Execution

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday


"The world's leading fashion designer, Gianni Versace, a genius in his field, was tragically murdered at his Miami Beach mansion, and what a terrible loss for this community and the world," said pioneering Miami Beach gay and AIDS activist, Bob Kunst.

Calvin Klein mourned the loss of "one of the great designers of our time."

Giorgio Armani hailed the quality of the art that went into the 50-year-old murdered designer's life's work. "My reaction is one of revolt against such an unnatural and violent death, and one of profound grief," he said.

Versace, felled early Tuesday morning by two close-range bullets to the back of his head, was just returning to his Miami Beach mansion after buying an Italian newspaper at the nearby News Cafe, a locale on the glamorous Ocean Drive, ground zero in South Florida's fashion and music industry.

The renowned designer, openly gay, dressed both Hollywood's and Europe's aristocracies. He was a very gentle, unassuming, gracious, and private person, according to those who interacted with him regularly on Miami Beach. Those recalling having seen him during the final moments of his life say that his manner, as usual, reflected such qualities.

There were witnesses and through interviews with them serial killer Andrew Cunanan, 27, has emerged as the prime suspect in the furious search now being conducted by the FBI and the Miami Beach police. Paul Philip, a Special Agent of the FBI, emphasized at a news briefing that Cunanan is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and that many agents were involved in a nationwide manhunt for him.

The suspect, wearing a back pack, is said to have walked up behind Versace and fired point blank into the back of his head. Either of the bullets would have killed the designer had only one been fired. Police are convinced that the slaying had been planned and carefully carried out "execution style." The killing, they insist, was no robbery attempt.

Agent Philip stressed that not only gay men were at dire risk from suspect Cunanan--who is armed and dangerous--but that everybody is at risk and should make Cunanan's whereabouts a prime concern. Cunanan's mother has described her son as a homosexual prostitute, and he is known to pass himself off under various aliases, often as an upper-class socialite. Cunanan is the prime suspect in at least four recent murders in a coast to coast spree starting in San Diego.

A recent sighting of Cunanan occurred in West Palm Beach. Gay residents and others in Florida towns and cities are now on heightened alert. "He could very well travel up the coast to places where the search spotlight is less intense," said one Central Florida resident, "so that's why people should alert each other to be particularly watchful."

Outside Versace's mansion a curious crowd quickly gathered. There were models on rollerblades, tourists wearing swimming gear, and locals in tee-shirts. Three red roses were scattered a few feet from the blood-spattered steps where the fashion legend had, only a few minutes before, expired.

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