Forensic Studies 007: Andrew Cunanan

on July 12, 2011 in Forensic Studies, Serial Killers by

Some acquaintances said that Andrew Cunanan was a homosexual. Family members felt that because he was an altar boy and attended Catholic school that it just could not be true. While attending school, Cunanan was remembered as being bright, talkative and very smart, testing with an I.Q. of 147. As a teenager, he developed a reputation as a prolific liar, given to telling fantastic tales about his family and personal life due to his mother’s chronic depression (Geringer, n.d.) and his father absence due to being in the Navy. Cunanan was intrigued with comic books and fantasy stories which evolved into his own life by being able to change his appearance according to what he felt was most attractive at a given moment. This is when the homosexuality began.

One family member who was aware that Cunanan was a homosexual was his own mother. In high school, he was openly gay. He was handsome, outgoing, lavish, good looking, suave, and ostentatious. He was fluent in seven languages allowing him to enter conversations with many diverse individuals, many of them of an older crowd. He would study and recite words and definitions of the designer encyclopedia to gain more knowledge as this is the type of crowd he hung out around (Sable Burns, K. 1994-2006).

His mother referred to him as a “high-class homosexual prostitute” due to the stories of Cunanan’s friend saying that he was a toy for old, wealthy men. After graduating from college, Cunanan settled in San Francisco where he frequented high-class gay bars and prostituted himself to wealthy older men (Sable Burns, K. 1994-2006). This was Cunanan’s direct access to Hollywood glamour, and his persuasive way with elder men allowed him to mingle with the world’s superstar elite. Cunanan participated in the role of sex slave for these men and was up for anything if given the right financial incentive.

Geringer (n.d) reports that the excessive drugs took its toll, and Cunanan found himself no longer the focus of the youth-obsessed gay culture group of San Francisco. When his pool of wealthy patrons dried up, Cunanan was without support and virtually penniless, actually turning to a regular job for the first time. Cunanan also believed that he might be suffering the first symptoms of HIV infection, so he went for a test in early 1997, but never returned for the results.

Depression set in and he began to gain weight and lose interest in his personal appearance, allegedly dealing drugs to support himself. Cunanan was reportedly jealous of the professional and financial success of both of his previous lovers, in stark relief to his own circumstances, and became obsessed with the belief that they were having an affair behind his back.

Cunanan had some sort of break down after being rejected by his lover and his best friend. He decided to move away, so his friends gave him a huge going away party which was all a lie. He didn’t move to San Francisco but went to Minneapolis instead. While in Minneapolis, Cunanan stayed with a former lover David Madson, arranged a fling with another old friend Jeffrey Trail who became Cunanan’s first murder in a three-month killing spree beginning April 27, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Sable Burns, K. 1994-2006).

Cunanan bashed in the head of Trail and wrapped in a rug in David Madson’s loft. A couple of days later, Cunanan made Jeff Madson his second victim. He killed Madson with a single shot to the head and dumped the body 60 miles north of Minneapolis. Thumbprints from this victim were taken for the identity. Cunanan then drove to Chicago and killed Lee Miglin with a saw blade and pruning shears approximately 2 days later. Cunanan’s fourth victim was William Reese who killed for his car by a single shot to the head with a .40-caliber Taurus.

He was then added on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list of America. Cunanan went into hiding in Miami Beach, Florida for two months between his fourth and fifth murders. Cunanan last murder was of the shooting of Gianni Versace on his front steps. Cunanan was positively identified by a witness that attempted to pursue him on foot, but could not catch him. As for the killing of Gianni Versace, some animal activists (PETA vice president, Dan Matthews with the Genre magazine) were okay with his death due to the designer using furs in his clothing line (Sable Burns, K. 1994-2006).
Cunanan’s friends believed that he was not a violent, horrible, and despicable person. In fact, they loved him even after all of the accusations. One friend of Cunanan’s told the press that he was not violent, the godfather to her children, not a thief, and is close to God. This friend also told him to turn his self in and contact an attorney. A couple other friends told FBI investigators that they were not afraid that Cunanan was in the area.

With all the killing, no could understand nor figure out why he would want to kill these people. Some speculated that he was killing these men due to his HIV discovery, but the medical examiners autopsy concluded that Cunanan didn’t have HIV, so that motive is out. Police thought that Cunanan killed Versace because he was jealous of him as he was a gay icon and is something that Cunanan wanted to be like, but there was nothing to gain by doing this. This behavior demonstrates an individual of psychopathic tendencies and may have a personality disorder due to a lack of empathy.
There were no signs to look for because he was so normal. Cunanan didn’t experience the early traumas or manifest the egregious childhood behavior that experts tag as typical of the serial killer (Geringer, J., n.d). These types of psychopaths are the ones that are discovered after the fact, the ones that blend in, or the ones that no one expects until it’s too late and now becomes this huge shock.

Cunanan used his own name to pawn a stolen item, knowing that authorities were looking for him, and that police routinely check pawn shop records for stolen merchandise. This shows that he didn’t care if he was found or that people knew where he was located. Cunanan had never been arrested. His fingerprints were not in the system, and neither were his name or face.

Cunanan eluded law enforcement officials for eight more days before he had the SWAT team on a four hour siege located on a houseboat in Miami. Cunanan ended up shooting himself in the mouth in the upstairs bedroom aboard that houseboat, where he was living. He used the same gun, a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber Taurus semi automatic, as he used to commit the other murders. He had stolen it from the first victim, Jeff Trail.

References:
Andrew Cunanan by Sable Burns, K. 1994-2006 retrieved on July 4, 2011
Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster by Joseph Geringer, J. n.d. retrieved on July 4, 2011
Andrew Cunanan Crime Biography, n.d. retrieved on July 4, 2011

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