Badpuppy Gay Today

Wednesday, 23 July 1997


Florida Police Sleuths Miss Pawn Ticket Signed by Most Wanted Man
Outpouring of Grief Over Versace's Murder Unprecedented

By Jack Nichols


"He was a blond," explained an embarrassed hospitality industry employee Thursday after his late night consumption of two Black Russians at a local bar, "and I guess he was about the right height, 5-10, but I know Cunanan's a brunette. Could this blond be a dye job? I wondered. I kept looking in his eyes. Is it Cunanan or isn't it? This guy was a little on the chunky side, but I'd heard Cunanan gained some weight, so what was I to think? This guy had some hot points though. He was nice and I didn't want to just turn him down..."

Four days later the suspect chunky blonde called the nervous employee to make a date. "Guess what happened to me," the blonde told him, "I went out last night and met this dark-haired guy. He showed me his ID and all, but something was fishy. We started out on the town together. The more I stole glances at him, the more he looked like the photos I've seen of Cunanan. Suddenly I asked him to get out of the car right in the center of town. 'Just get out of the car, that's all,' I told him." The employee laughed nervously at his new friend's honestly recounted story.

While similar scenarios play themselves out from day to day across the gay American landscape, the suspect Andrew Cunanan--on the FBI's Most Wanted List for a month-- is still on the loose. Witless police bungling in South Florida was headlined in Tuesday's edition of The New York Times: "Police May Have Had Cunanan Address Before Killing."

Beneath the headline is an enlarged visual of a pawn shop receipt signed "Andrew P. Cunanan" providing the address of the fugitive's Normandy Hotel. The receipt had been signed July 7, a week before Versace was murdered. Cunanan had been on the FBI's Most Wanted List since June 12. Pawn shop tickets, under Miami Beach enactment, are required to be sent directly to police headquarters. But, unfortunately for the police, who, according to the Times, have now been forced into responding to mounting criticism, "the (Miami Beach police) system in which the pawn shop forms are processed was not fully automated."

Detective Al Boza told reporters that "there is often a time gap between the arrival of that data from the pawn shops and the entry of the information."

"Time gap, oh yeah, a time gap," fumed Miami Beach gay activist Bob Kunst, angry because the Miami Metro Commission recently voted down an ordinance that would have provided legal protection to gay men and lesbians, and because Dade officials are awash in hypocrisy, now scrambling, as he sees it, to make themselves look competent in the face of the Versace disaster.

Kunst speaks presently with sincerity about calling for a Miami Beach "that succeeds through secession" and a Dade County tourists' boycott. "Remember Gianni!" he says. "We have to symbolically remove ourselves from the hate that emanates from Dade's political machinery," he insists.

The Miami Beach police, writes the Times' Lizette Alvarez, "also appear to have failed to check the (pawn shop) logs even after Mr. Versace was gunned down."

CBS' Inside Edition boasted at having helped Miami Beach police by conducting its own store-to-store search where TV investigators--not police-- discovered that Cunanan had purchased hair clippers with a stolen credit card. "The police were glad we helped," said a reporter. CBS News reported sightings of the alleged murderer in Vermont.

In the meantime, mourners for the slain fashion giant continue to vent extraordinary outpourings of grief. Celebrity figures, warned that they too may be sought out by Versace's assailant, have been clearly shaken. Singer/ actress Madonna's eulogy, telling how Versace showed interest in yoga exercises, appeared in this week's Time magazine. Inside Edition Tuesday showed an unmistakably shaken Elton John weeping.


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