May 9

This Day in History

Crime

May 9, 1997:

Cunanan continues murder spree

The body of William Reese, 45, a cemetery caretaker, is found in rural Pennsville, New Jersey, on May 9, 1997. He had been shot in the head with a Golden Saber .38-caliber bullet. Police soon determined that the killer was Andrew Cunanan, a 27-year-old man already wanted for three murders. It appeared that Cunanan had killed Reese in the process of stealing his Chevrolet pick-up.

Cunanan spent most of his adult life as the kept companion of wealthy older men, living a very expensive lifestyle in San Diego, California, that was far beyond his own means. In April 1997, Cunanan told his friends that he was moving to San Francisco. However, he actually bought a one-way ticket to Minnesota after begging his credit card company to extend his credit limit.

In Minnesota, Cunanan met up with David Madson, whom he had briefly dated in the past. Apparently, Cunanan went there in an attempt to continue the relationship. On April 27, Jeffrey Trail, an acquaintance of both Cunanan and Madson, met the two at Madson's apartment, but the details of what happened there are still unknown. Authorities know only that Cunanan killed Trail with a hammer and then went to East Rush Lake, where he killed Madson two days later with one shot to the head.

Cunanan then took Madson's jeep and drove to Chicago where he found his next victim: 72-year-old millionaire Lee Miglin. Miglin was bound by duct tape, stabbed with gardening shears, and then killed when Cunanan cut his throat with a saw. Cunanan then drove east to New Jersey in Miglin's Lexus, where he killed Reese and escaped with his car.

A massive manhunt ensued when the FBI placed Cunanan on its Ten Most Wanted List. The press ran with the story, and Cunanan was featured multiple times on television’s America's Most Wanted. Police believe that Cunanan spent a few days in New York City’s Greenwich Village before driving south to Miami, where on July 15, he killed famous fashion designer Gianni Versace outside his South Beach mansion

On July 23, Fernando Carreira, the caretaker of a houseboat in Miami, found an intruder on the boat and called police. Apparently sensing his capture, Cunanan shot himself in the head, but police, unaware, engaged in a five-hour standoff with the already dead killer.

No solid motive for Cunanan's murders has emerged, although rumors abound that he was HIV positive and sought to take revenge for his condition. In the end, Cunanan lived up to his high school classmate's billing as the student "most likely not to be forgotten."

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