Year
1997
Month Day
May 09

Andrew 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. In the end, Cunanan lived up to his high school classmate’s billing as the student “most likely not to be forgotten.”

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

President Nixon meets with anti-war protesters at the Lincoln Memorial

In the early hours of May 9, 1970, a frazzled President Richard Nixon embarks upon what his Chief of Staff will describe as "the weirdest day so far" of his presidency. Preoccupied with the recent Kent State shootings and the unrest that has spread to college campuses across the ...read more

the-pill-GettyImages-514867588

FDA approves "the pill"

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the world’s first commercially produced birth-control pill–Enovid-10, made by the G.D. Searle Company of Chicago, Illinois. Development of “the pill,” as it became popularly known, was initially commissioned by birth-control pioneer ...read more

Irish adventurer “Captain Blood” steals crown jewels

In London, Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer better known as “Captain Blood,” is captured attempting to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Blood, a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War, was deprived of his estate in Ireland with the restoration of the ...read more

Explorer Richard Byrd claims to have flown over the North Pole

According to their claims, polar explorer Richard E. Byrd and co-pilot Floyd Bennett fly over the North Pole on this day in the Josephine Ford, a triple-engine Fokker monoplane. It would have been the first time an aircraft flew over the top of the world. The pair had taken off ...read more

Former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro is found dead

On May 9, 1978, the body of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is found, riddled by bullets, in the back of a car in the center of historic Rome. He was kidnapped by Red Brigade terrorists on March 16 after a bloody shoot-out near his suburban home. The Italian government ...read more

L. Ron Hubbard publishes "Dianetics"

On May 9, 1950, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986) publishes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. With this book, Hubbard introduced a branch of self-help psychology called Dianetics, which quickly caught fire and, over time, morphed into a belief system called ...read more

High-ranking Nazi Hermann Göring is captured by the U.S. Seventh Army

On May 9, 1945, Herman Goering, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia and Hitler’s designated successor is taken prisoner by the U.S. Seventh Army in Bavaria. Goering was an early member of the Nazi Party ...read more

Reporter breaks the news of secret bombing in Cambodia

William Beecher, military correspondent for the New York Times, publishes a front page dispatch from Washington, “Raids in Cambodia by U.S. Unprotested,” which accurately described the first of the secret B-52 bombing raids in Cambodia. Within hours, Henry Kissinger, presidential ...read more

House votes to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Nixon

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opens impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon, voting to impeach him on three counts on July 30. The impeachment was the result of the scandal involving the bungled burglary of the offices of the Democratic National ...read more

Woodrow Wilson proclaims the first Mother’s Day holiday

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issues a presidential proclamation that officially establishes the first national Mother’s Day holiday to celebrate America’s mothers. The idea for a “Mother’s Day” is credited by some to Julia Ward Howe (1872) and by others to Anna Jarvis ...read more

“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show opens

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show opens in London, giving Queen Victoria and her subjects their first look at a romanticized version of the American West. A well-known scout for the army and a buffalo hunter for the railroads (which earned him his nickname), Cody had gained national ...read more

An unlikely challenger ends the Beatles’ reign atop the U.S. pop charts

Following the ascension of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to #1 in early February, the Beatles held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for three and a half solid months—longer than any popular artist before or since. Over the course of those months, the Fab Four earned three ...read more

Last episode of “The Honeymooners” airs

On May 9, 1971, the last original episode of the sitcom The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason as Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden, airs. Although a perennial rerun favorite in syndication, The Honeymooners actually aired only 39 episodes in its familiar sitcom format, ...read more

West Germany joins NATO

Ten years after the Nazis were defeated in World War II, West Germany formally joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense group aimed at containing Soviet expansion in Europe. This action marked the final step of West Germany’s integration into the ...read more

Allies launch dual offensive on Western Front

On May 9, 1915, Anglo-French forces fighting in World War I launch their first combined attempt to break through the heavily fortified German trench lines on the Western Front in France. At Vimy Ridge, a strategically important crest of land on the Aisne River, in northwestern ...read more