Murder by Design: Did Gianni Versace know his killer?

"48 Hours" investigates the killing spree by Andrew Cunanan that ended the life of the iconic fashion designer and four others 20 years ago

Produced by Lisa Freed and Marcelena Spencer

Gianni Versace, the Italian fashion designer who dressed some of the most famous women in the world, including Princess Diana, was shot dead on the morning of July 15, 1997. The killer walked up, shot him twice execution style, and then walked off, leaving the 50-year-old bleeding to death on the steps to his Miami Beach, Fla., home.

"Versace helped put Miami on the international map. … he brought with him his entire world of fabulosity," says Tara Solomon, former columnist for the Miami Herald. "When Versace was killed … There was pure pandemonium."

The death also rocked the fashion world. "I remember it profoundly," "Project Runway's" Tim Gunn tells "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger. "I opened up my computer and it flashed before me that Gianni had been murdered. I was stunned."

The investigation into what happened would uncover a killer who thrived on attention and was willing to kill friends. Was Versace's death a targeted hit or simply a random killing?  It would take just three hours for police to learn the name of the killer. Police across the country were already hunting for Andrew Cunanan for the murders of four others.

But what was Cunanan's connection to Versace?

versace-gianni.jpg

Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace after a show in Paris in July 1996.

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Five days before he was murdered, Gianni Versace and his partner, Antonio D''Amico had arrived at Casa Casuarina, their lavish Miami Beach retreat.  They'd been in Paris and New York. Versace could not have known it, but his killer was already in town.

Operator: 911 emergency…

Caller: I'm at 1116 Ocean Drive. A man's been shot. …Please, immediately please…

The 911 call came in around 8:45 a.m. on July 15, 1997, just as Carlos Noriega, then a lieutenant with the Miami Beach Police Department, was heading to work.

Carlos Noriega: I drove over to the scene, and … encountered -- an area just flooded -- with police officers. …There was evidence at the front steps. There was blood. There was -- clothing.

Carlos Noriega: Gianni Versace was an icon … you have -- a world-renowned fashion designer, celebrity … who was tragically killed. …This was all hands on deck.

Richard Schlesinger: Yeah, you don't wanna screw this case up.

Carlos Noriega: No. Exactly.

It all happened in broad daylight. Versace had gone out that morning – alone – to a local café to buy magazines, and then he walked home.

Carlos Noriega: [Standing In front of mansion]: As he was putting the key in the door lock, he was … shot twice, once in the face, point-blank range, and the other one was behind the left ear in the neck and that was a through and through shot.

Noriega believes the gunman approached Versace from behind or from the side.

Carlos Noriega: I believe he was shadowing him.  …It was a very strategically timed, strategically placed attack to kill Gianni Versace.

Versace was world famous and well loved in Miami Beach. So the question was who would want to kill him?

Carlos Noriega: One of the first motives that we -- we felt-- was a possibility, was … that it was a contract hit, or organized crime, Mafia if you will -- because there was a dead bird found next to the body.

Richard Schlesinger: Is that a sign?

Carlos Noriega: To us that's a sign of a Mafia hit.

But the bird, it turned out, was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- hit by a fragment from a bullet that killed Versace. 

That left police with not much to go on, but not for long. They got a break from Lazaro Quintana, who was a friend of Versace's.

Lazaro Quintana: He used to call me Lazareta.  

Quintana was at the mansion that morning. He was in the dining room with Antonio D'Amico when he heard the shots.

Lazaro Quintana: And all of a sudden we hear bang, bang … Two shots.

Lazaro Quintana: Antonio got up. And he went to the window that faces the gate to enter the mansion. … And he yelled out, "No. No." And I ran out.

Lazaro Quintana [Outside by the mansion steps]: I came here. Gianni was right here.

Versace was already dead on the front steps.

Lazaro Quintana: And then Antonio came and he's crying and … He was destroyed.  He was destroyed.

Lazaro Quintana: And he's -- he's,"Who did this? Who did this?" And there was -- there was a lady standing here.

Lazaro Quintana: And she's pointing, but she couldn't speak…. Antonio said, "Go get him. Go get him." …So I went after him.

Quintana followed the gunman.

Lazaro Quintana [Walking with Schlesinger]: We're talking this pace. Real fast.

Lazaro Quintana: I yelled, "You bastard. Why did you do this? Why did you do this?"

Lazaro Quintana [Walking with Schlesinger]: He makes a left turn. …As he makes the left turn … And we're still going. We're still goin' all the way through. …he turns over to the right. And cars coming so I couldn't get across. Car stops. And they yell, "He's got a gun." …He stops right across here at the alley.

lazaro-quintana.jpg

Lazaro Quintana demonstrates how Gianni Versace's killer pointed a gun at him

CBS News

Lazaro Quintana: And that's when he's pointing the gun at me.

Richard Schlesinger: Show me how he pointed the gun at you if I'm you.  [Quintana turns his back, his arm stretched behind him] So, he didn't even look at you?

Lazaro Quintana: No.

Richard Schlesinger: So you never saw his face?

Lazaro Quintana: Never saw his face.

Richard Schlesinger: But you saw his clothes?

Lazaro Quintana: Yes.

The shooter cut through an alley while Quintana raced around the corner. He remembered seeing a police officer there earlier.

Lazaro Quintana: I reached him. And I said to him, "Mr. Versace has just been shot."

Richard Schlesinger: Were you calm? Were you –

Lazaro Quintana: No. …No. I mean a friend of mine was just shot. No. Was I calm? I was nervous. I was upset--

Richard Schlesinger: You came down this street with the police officer?

Lazaro Quintana: I did.

Luckily, he came upon some men in front of  a nearby building and asked them if they saw a man running.

Lazaro Quintana: And they pointed. They pointed to the garage.

Richard Schlesinger: They said he went in here?

Lazaro Quintana: He went in here. So, that's when I told the officer. I said, "He's in there. Go get him. Go get him." …And then, we heard over the radio the commotion and -- and, OK, now there is a manhunt.

When police searched the 13th Street garage, they discovered a pile of clothes -- a gray T-shirt and black shorts -- just what Quintana had seen the shooter wearing. He had obviously changed clothes.

When he walked out of the garage, just shortly after the murder, nobody knew who the shooter was; nobody knew what he looked like or what he was wearing.  He was able to just vanish.

Andrew Cunanan Miami evidence

Inside the 13th Street garage, police discovered a pile of clothes and a truck that had been reported stolen in New Jersey.

CBS News

But he left a mountain of evidence for investigators.  Next to that pile of clothes, was a truck that had been reported stolen in New Jersey, and inside the truck were documents with a name.

Richard Schlesinger: He left his identification in the truck?

Carlos Noriega: That's correct. He had his passport,  ID -- a whole lot of items that connected him right away.

By noon, some three hours after Gianni Versace was murdered, police had a suspect. His name: Andrew Cunanan.

And as it turned out the Miami Beach Police Department was not the only one looking for him.

"MOST LIKELY TO BE REMEMBERED"

Dan Rather | CBS News: In Milan Italy today, those who knew and admired Gianni Versace said goodbye to the murdered fashion designer.

One week after Gianni Versace was murdered, celebrities and friends from around the world gathered inside a Gothic cathedral in Milan, Italy, for his funeral.

Lazaro Quintana: I saw Versace's funeral on television and I cried. It was hard. It was tough. …Princess Diana was there at the funeral, Sting, Trudy, Elton.....

In Miami, not far from where he was murdered, there was small intimate service to celebrate the designer's life.

Floral tributes following Versace murder

Floral tributes after the murder of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace outside his Miami Beach estate.

Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

The flowers left on the steps of Versace's opulent mansion served as one somber reminder of what had happened.

The police activity was another.

Police press conference: We consider Andrew Cunanan to be armed and to be extremely dangerous.

They were tracking every lead they could -- hunting for Gianni Versace's suspected killer: 27-year-old Andrew Cunanan.

Michael Band was the prosecutor assigned to this case.

Michael Band | Former Miami-Dade prosecutor: You had a very good suspect.

Michael Band: And our first step was, you know, to go out into the community with pictures of Cunanan and start beating the bushes and looking for this guy. Looking to figure out, "Is this the guy?"

Andrew Cunanan

Andrew Cunanan

Authorities were starting to learn all about Andrew Cunanan. Three months before Versace's murder, Cunanan was living in San Diego. And his life was, to say the least, complicated.

Robert Arends | Cunanan's former classmate: I thought he'd be a very successful businessman or maybe in …the fashion industry, or just something really … something star-quality like.

Back in the 1980s, Robert Arends remembers his seventh-grade classmate, Andrew Cunanan, as a good-looking kid with a keen fashion sense.

Robert Arends: I remember Andrew would put dimes in his penny loafers. It was always that little extra something that made him stand out in the crowd and get noticed. … Andrew sort of had this air about him that I thought this was … kinda beyond his years at the time.

According to Arends, Andrew Cunanan grew up in a working class San Diego suburb, and didn't share much about his home life.

Robert Arends: I had no idea who his mom was, his dad, whether he had brothers or sisters. I had no idea he was half Filipino.

Andrew's father, Modesto, was a former Navy man-turned-stockbroker. He and Andrew's mother, Mary Anne, raised four children together.

But Andrew Cunanan stood out. He had a genius I.Q. So he enrolled in the pricey and prestigious The Bishop's School in the tony beach enclave of La Jolla.

Robert Ahrens: So when I heard that he was going to La Jolla and transferring to Bishop's, I thought, "Well you gotta have money...that's a private school.

The class of 1987, mentioned Andrew Cunanan as "Most Likely to be Remembered."  He chose a quote from King Louis XV to accompany his senior photo: "Apres moi, le deluge." After me, the deluge.

Turns out those words could have been an omen. A year after Andrew's high school graduation, his father was facing embezzlement charges. He fled the country leaving his family abandoned and broke.

When "48 Hours" first spoke to Nicole Murray-Ramirez in 1997, he knew Andrew Cunanan.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez [1997]: He was openly gay in high school and very flamboyant …

Today, the journalist and activist still remembers Cunanan as the young man who didn't have a job, but was a big spender and an even bigger talker.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez: Andrew Cunanan was basically known in the gay community's nightlife and the bar scene … he would walk in with an entourage and always pay for the bill …he wanted the illusion that it was his money. He tried to brag that it came from a Filipino family and he knew Imelda Marcos.

Michael Williams knew Andrew Cunanan. He also knew where he really got all that money. 

Michael Williams: He had a very wealthy older partner who really provided for him

Richard Schlesinger: How much older?

Michael Williams: I would say probably by 40 years.

Richard Schlesinger: What did you make of that relationship?

Michael Williams: I stopped trying to figure that out … I was like, you know, here's this young, attractive, good-looking guy with this extremely older man. I mean I can't imagine what the connection was there.

Richard Schlesinger: I would imagine you had an idea what the connection was there?

Michael Williams: I did.

Michael Williams was introduced to Andrew Cunanan though their mutual friend, a young ensign named Jeff Trail.

Michael Williams:  Andrew was very pretentious … loud, you know always had to be the center of the party … Jeff was opposite of that. Jeff was pretty conservative and you know quiet, always helping people.

Trail was an Annapolis graduate and a Gulf War veteran living in San Diego. He was also gay, as out as was possible.

In 1993,  Trail appeared in silhouette for a "48 Hours" interview. He talked about issues affecting gay people in the military.

Jeff Trail interview: We're not here to be feared. We are just here to do our job. That is all we are asking for.

While Trail and Cunanan were friends, to the best of anybody's knowledge that is all they were.

Michael Williams: Jeff always had the contagious personality that you just wanted to be around him … and I think in a way Andrew wanted that in his life, so surrounding himself around Jeff he always seemed very happy and up.

Richard Schlesinger: You did not like Andrew?

Michael Williams: No.

For reasons known only to Cunanan, he sometimes used the name Andrew DeSilva. That's how Michael Williams knew him. And he would soon learn a lot more about Andrew.

Who he was and what he would do would change the life of Michael Williams and end the lives of five innocent victims.

THE TRAIL OF A KILLER

Tracing Andrew Cunanan's blood-soaked path to Gianni Versace's front door means following a series of unexplainable events punctuated with unfathomable viciousness. None of the dots are easily connected -- except in the mind of the murderer.

The road begins with Jeff Trail.

Michael Williams: He just had that charisma about him.

It was Trail who befriended Andrew Cunanan. Michael Williams believes his friend knew Cunanan had lived a dangerous life.

Michael Williams: …Andrew had a past of dealing drugs … He had a past of prostitution. And I really think that Jeff was trying to pull him out of that.

Cunanan victim Jeff Trail

Jeff Trail

Lisa Stravinskas

Williams says Jeff Trial had left the Navy and was training to join the California Highway Patrol. And then, suddenly and with no explanation, in the fall of 1996 Trail moved to Minneapolis.

Michael Williams: The day that he got in the car to leave… I said "please be safe" and he reached under the seat and he pulled out his handgun. And he said, "I'm gonna be safe, I've got this."

Around that same time, Jeff Trail's friend, Andrew Cunanan, was struggling according to Nicole Murray-Ramirez.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez: He was not good looking anymore… he …had to have looked … in the mirror … and saw what I saw, [chuckles] which was -- a six going down to a four. What was left for his life?

Cunanan had gained weight and given away much of his expensive designer wardrobe.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez: He had dabbled into drugs … He was now an older young man with average looks.

On top of that, his older, wealthy partner broke up with him.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez: I surmise that Andrew, one day, woke up after his older boyfriend … broke up the relationship and [wondered] "What's next?" …How was he going to live?

He lost the money, the mansion and all that went with it.

Mary Ellen O'Toole | Former FBI profiler: He lived off other people … he also was someone who was revengeful.

Mary Ellen O'Toole: …and this is not someone that you break up with easily, because when you are grandiose and you're the center of the world, people don't break up with you.

And then, for reasons Cunanan never fully explained, on Friday, April 25, 1997, he went to Minneapolis.  Cunanan flew from San Diego on a one-way ticket.

Richard Schlesinger: Do you think that he went to Minneapolis with murder on his mind?

Mary Ellen O'Toole: Yes … I think that he did.

Cunanan knew people in Minneapolis. Jeff Trail was there.  Michael Williams thinks something happened between the two of them.

Michael Williams: I called to check on Jeff. And he was just really depressed… It alarmed me…. We'd never had a conversation like that [his voice breaks] I ask him, "Have you spoken to Andrew?" And he said, "No, and I'll never speak to him again." That's odd.

Cunanan knew somebody else in Minneapolis: a 33-year-old architect named David Madson. Cunanan and Madson had had a relationship.

Julie Hovland was David Madson's friend and coworker.               

Julie Hovland: He loved to laugh … and he always had big energy.

Julie Hovland: He liked problem solving. We talked about world issues. …he was a …down-to-earth person.

Richard Schlesinger: Did David ever mention Andrew Cunanan?

Julie Hovland: Yes, he did. …I think he had a fling with Andrew. I don't think it was anything serious … 'cause there were other people in his life that he cared about more. He really didn't care about Andrew that much, really.

David Madson and friend Julie Hovland

David Madson and friend Julie Hovland

Julie Hovland

But according to Cunanan's friends, David was the love of his life.

Julie Hovland didn't talk to David Madson over the weekend. On Monday, she was surprised when he didn't show up at work. By Tuesday, everyone one was worried.

Julie Hovland: I called him … It went to voice messaging … And a couple of my co-workers went to his house over lunch hour on Tuesday -- heard his dog barking in the apartment.

She didn't know it, but Cunanan's killing spree had already begun.

When retired Minneapolis homicide detective Dale Barsness arrived at Madson's apartment, what he saw was gruesome. There was a bloody body wrapped in rug.

Det. Dale Barsness: It was noticeable as soon as you'd open the door and walk in … nobody made any effort to try and conceal it or hide it.

Julie Hovland: I thought he was dead that day … I pretty much cried the whole night … and then later we found out that it wasn't David's body in the carpet.

Richard Schlesinger: How'd you feel when you heard that?

Julie Hovland: [Deep sigh] Shocked… But then, "Oh, what happened?"

The body in David Madson's apartment was Jeff Trail. He had been beaten to death with a hammer. And not far from the body police found a duffle bag with a name on it: Andrew Cunanan.

But where was Andrew Cunanan and where was David Madson?

The trail stayed cold for just four days. Then on Saturday morning, two fishermen found the body of a young man on the shores of East Rush Lake, about an hour north of Minneapolis. It was David Madson. He had been shot in the head.

Julie Hovland: We learned that David died pretty soon after Jeff Trail … Oh my gosh -- you know, to be in that situation that David was in with this crazy person, you know, and how scary for him … I am sure he tried to calm Andrew down … you know, I mean I'm sure there was survival mode going on, like "how do you diffuse that situation?" …but he obviously failed at that. And he lost his life because of that.

Ballistic tests showed the bullets used to kill Madson came from a .40 caliber gun like the one Jeff Trail had taken to Minneapolis. Police believe Cunanan took that gun.

Richard Schlesinger: Presumably, when you were able to link Madson's death to Trail's death, that changed the whole investigation?

Dale Barsness: Yeah, now we're down to "where's Andrew?"

There were tire tracks near Madson's body, and his car, a red Jeep, was missing. It would not stay missing for long.

News report: 72-year-old Lee Miglin was found tortured and stabbed to death … in the garage of his mansion on Chicago's Gold Coast.

On the morning of May 3, 1997, Stephen and Barbara Byer found the body of their neighbor, Lee Miglin. He was a wealthy real estate developer.

Barbara Byer: I can still picture it today…. I could see the points of his shoes … and I said, "Lee is right there."  I mean it was absolutely chilling.

Cunanan victim Lee Miglin

Chicago real estate tycoon Lee Miglin

Newscom

Inside Lee Miglin's townhouse, there was some money and other things missing. And there was evidence the killer had stayed awhile. Police photos show he had shaved and taken a bath.

Stephen Byer: …debris in the kitchen sink. Melted ice cream … and then in Lee's library … finding this large ham sliced … sitting on his desk … and that was plenty to recognize that something very, very bad had gone on.

Around the corner from the murder scene police found David Madson's red Jeep, but Lee Miglin's green Lexus was now missing. To this day, police don't know what, if any, connection Cunanan had to Miglin. But they feared Cunanan would strike again.

A KILLING SPREE

After Andrew Cunanan murdered Jeff Trail, David Madson and Lee Miglin, the gay community was terrified -- especially in San Diego.

Michael Williams:  I think everybody was in a state of shock. I think some people were in a state of fear. … People didn't answer their doors. People that knew him the most stayed other places.

Michael Williams relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Michael Williams: Everybody was on very high alert.

Richard Schlesinger: Because you didn't know where he was gonna strike again?

Michael Williams: Yeah.

Just six days after he killed Miglin, while Cunanan was on the run in Miglin's green Lexus, police believe he realized the FBI was tracking the car phone's signal and he needed a new vehicle.

News report: He's believed to have struck here in Pennsville Friday afternoon … at the remote Finn's Point Cemetery at Fort Lot Park.


Police to reporters: The FBI is working concurrently with N.J .State Police.

 
The Lexus was found at a cemetery in southern New Jersey.  Inside the office, lay victim number four. William Reese, 45, had been shot in the head and his red pickup was gone. 

Dale Barsness: [Shakes head] Yeah … all he was was a caretaker at a cemetery.

Cunanan victim William Reese

William Reese of New Jersey was Andrew Cunanan's fourth victim

Retired Minneapolis Detective Dale Barsness says William Reese was killed simply for his truck.

Dale Barsness: You know, he just-- was a very honorable man.

Richard Schlesinger: In the wrong place?                                                                                  

Dale Barsness: Absolutely.

Richard Schlesinger: At the wrong time.

Dale Barsness: And alone.

Richard Schlesinger: You're ensconced somewhere in Scottsdale. He's last heard of in New Jersey. Can you relax?

Michael Williams: No. Until he's caught, you don't relax.

Cunanan FBI Wanted poster
FBI

As Gianni Versace was in Europe working on what would be his final collection, Andrew Cunanan was the focus of a nationwide manhunt. He was featured on "America's Most Wanted" and earned a spot on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. 

Richard Schlesinger: You think he enjoyed the attention that he got?

Mary Ellen O'Toole: Oh, I absolutely do. Yes. …He basically held the United States hostage because we were looking for him everywhere, we didn't know where he was.

O'Toole, a former FBI profiler, says, having murdered four men, in three states, over 12 days – Cunanan was now considered a spree killer.

Mary Ellen O'Toole:  There was the homicide of Jeff Trail and David Madson, there was the murder of Lee Miglin … then there was the murder of William Reese. …We have what we typically call a spree killer. This wasn't a haphazard crime. 

Mary Ellen O'Toole: A spree killer continues and continues and continues and does not go back into their normal life.  Life as they know it, it's done.   

So O'Toole believes Cunanan knew he had nothing to lose.

Mary Ellen O'Toole: Mister Versace was targeted.

Mary Ellen O'Toole: There's no way to undo what he's done now. Absolutely no way.  …So he's really boxed himself into a corner. …from a behavioral standpoint, that makes him more dangerous.

But then, for two months, there was no sign of Cunanan -- until July 15, 1997, when he struck again. This time was different.  Because this time, his victim was Gianni Versace.

Richard Schlesinger: When you had heard that he had done it again, do you remember how you felt?

Michael Williams: Every time there was another killing, it was almost like you were being stabbed, you know, it's that rush of pain … And you're just automatically, "Oh, my God. …why can't they catch him?"

Carlos Noriega: There's no question that he knew that we were hot on his trail.

Carlos Noriega remembers that within hours, hundreds of police officers piled onto Miami Beach.

Carlos Noriega: We all but locked down -- the causeways, and the ways in and out of the city.  …And I believe that created that bottleneck where he felt uncomfortable trying to leave the city.

With all the attention on this case, every day brought a flood of tips.

Det. Gustavo Sanchez | Miami Beach Police Department: The tips that were coming in were -- were overwhelming at times.

Especially since this was Detective Gus Sanchez's first homicide investigation.

Richard Schlesinger: Were you nervous at all?

Gustavo Sanchez: Of course I was.

Gustavo Sanchez: We know already that he had killed -- numerous people. …I remember … going to different locations, knocking on doors … and it always crosses your mind that -- Cunanan can be in there armed. And he can shoot through the door.

Detectives soon learned Cunanan had been in Miami Beach for about two months.

Richard Schlesinger: He was sorta hiding in plain sight?

Carlos Noriega: Exactly.

Police had missed several opportunities to get him. About a week before he killed Versace, Cunanan pawned a gold coin stolen from Lee Miglin. How'd the pawn shop know it was him? He told them.

Carlos Noriega: Pawned a coin about a week before the homicide.

Richard Schlesinger: And used his own name?

Carlos Noriega: Used his own name.

What's more, Cunanan's name was on a form the pawn shop was required to send to the Miami Beach Police Department. It arrived five days before the murder. 

Carlos Noriega: We did not have an automated system at the time.

It was just one of many forms … unfortunately, nobody looked at it. 

Richard Schlesinger: Did you think, "Why didn't we know about this before Gianni Versace was killed?"

Carlos Noriega: That thought went through my mind several times. Cause apparently he was on the beach for period of time.

Cunanan listed his address as the Normandy Plaza Hotel.

Gustavo Sanchez: It was a dump … You and I wouldn't stay in that hotel.

Cunanan had registered under his own name.

Richard Schlesinger: Must drive you nuts to know that this guy was walking around free as a bird --

Carlos Noriega: Right. I mean, just the fact that … this guy was being looked for … speaks to the fact that he was able to blend in and change his appearance … and successfully just stay one step ahead that way.

Things might have turned out differently if police had a little more luck. Four days before Versace was killed, someone at a sub shop recognized Cunanan from the "America's Most Wanted" story. He called the police, but they arrived too late.

Carlos Noriega: I was disappointed. I was frustrated … It's just unfortunate that we didn't catch him before it happened.

After Versace's murder, with Cunanan on the loose, anxiety grew.

Police to reporters: "Let me assure you that Miami Beach and Dade County are safe."

Remember, Versace's friend, Lazaro Quintana, had chased Cunanan.

Lazaro Quintana: I was afraid. …he knew who I was. But I didn't know who he was.

Richard Schlesinger: How did you behave when you were out?

Lazaro Quintana: Scared, cautious, lookin' over my shoulder a lot.

Richard Schlesinger: Literally? I mean, you --

Lazaro Quintana: Absolutely. Oh, yeah. I was, yeah. I mean, I get goose bumps on it; absolutely … this man had a gun. This man knew what he was doing.

The longer Cunanan dodged police, the more intense the hunt became.

Michael Band | Former Miami-Dade prosecutor: I think the police … were getting anxious. Where could he be? What kinda resources did he have?

Richard Schlesinger: That's a lot of pressure.

Michael Band: That's a lotta pressure on law enforcement. … The whole world's watching, but -- we don't want anybody else dead.

Carlos Noriega: There was a sense that maybe we lost him by some people. …I just thought that he was hiding out.

 And then the tip came in that would change everything.

Michael Band: I get a call … "Michael, I think we found him."

CUNANAN'S LAST STAND

Gustavo Sanchez: I heard over the police radio that there had been a shot fired, that they were surrounding a houseboat.

Richard Schlesinger: You think what?

Gustavo Sanchez: We got him.

After a nine-day manhunt, Miami Beach Detective Gus Sanchez believed Andrew Cunanan was finally cornered on a houseboat just 40 blocks from where he had shot down Gianni Versace.

When Sanchez arrived, it was a standoff.

Richard Schlesinger: At this point nobody's seen Cunanan in -- on the houseboat?

Gustavo Sanchez: No, there's no confirmation at this point.

The houseboat's caretaker saw signs of a break-in.  And when he went inside, a shot was fired.

Police quickly surrounded the houseboat.

Miami Beach houseboat

It was on the second floor of this houseboat alongside Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Fla., that Andrew Cunanan fatally shot himself. 

CBS News

After a four-hour siege, the SWAT team fired tear gas and went on board.  When it was safe,  prosecutor Michael Band followed them.

Michael Band: It was a mess. It was just a mess.

In an upstairs bedroom, they found a body.

Michael Band:  I just recall-- an individual lyin' on the bed, looking up … he had a bullet wound in his head. …There's a gun next to him. 

Richard Schlesinger: When you looked at that face, what did your gut tell you?

Michael Band: My gut told me it's him.

But that wasn't enough.

Michael Band: I wanted his fingerprints.

As Band waited, an expert at the scene compared fingerprints from the corpse with Cunanan's.

Michael Band: …he looks up. And he says, "It's him."     

Police to reporters The reign of terror brought upon us by Andrew Cunanan is over.

It turned out Cunanan shot himself with the same gun he used to kill Gianni Versace, William Reese and David Madson; the gun he had taken from his friend and first victim, Jeff Trail.

Michael Williams | Jeff Trail's friend: There was a sense of relief.

But this was not the outcome Michael Williams hoped for.

Michael Williams: I didn't want him to do anything but go to jail and rot.

Andrew Cunanan's suicide left the world with a pile of questions.  Was there was any connection between Gianni Versace and Andrew Cunanan? There have always been rumors; there is no hard evidence.

Richard Schlesinger: Do you think they knew each other?

Carlos Noriega: I think there's a strong possibility that they -- they crossed paths before.

Gustavo Sanchez: And that plays into his motive.  I think so. I think they knew each other … or he wanted to be in his circle, and maybe he was rejected. And this -- this is all speculation --

Michael Band: There is some sense of it's not complete. …  "Why'd he do it? [Why] the folks in -- in Minnesota? Why Chicago? …Why New Jersey? … why Versace? … Was there a connection there?  …Was this just some sorta serendipitous, unfortunate occasion where just two lives intersected at  … the wrong time?

Richard Schlesinger: And we'll never know.

Michael Band: We'll never know.

Gianni Versace was already thinking about his legacy when he talked to Charlie Rose in 1994.

Gianni Versace: Fashion, to me, is born and dies everyday.  

Gianni Versace: The thing I want to be remembered is what I will do tomorrow. 

Twenty years after Versace's death, "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn says his influence still lives.

Tim Gunn: There is something inherently sexy in a Versace design... There is a flamboyance that is contained, and controlled.

Tim Gunn: …sexy, alluring, gorgeous red carpet gowns … it's all attributable to Gianni Versace.

Tim Gunn: The Versace customer was not faint of heart … 

Gowns by Gianni Versace

From left, Elizabeth Hurley, Princess Diana and Courtney Love wearing designs by Gianni Versace. Says Tim Gunn: "One of the most iconic Versace pieces was the gown he made for Elizabeth Hurley. …Two stars were born with that dress. ...Princess Diana wanted a whole new 'look' for the world and Courtney Love did also. I mean, he took her from trashy to sophisticated."

Starstock/Photoshot/Everett Collection, Shutterstock, AP

Singer Bruno Mars not only wears Versace, he mentions the designer in one of his songs, "Versace on the Floor."

Richard Schlesinger: If guys like Bruno Mars are singing about Gianni Versace 20 years after his death, what, in your mind, does that say about Gianni Versace?

Tim Gunn: That he's fully imbedded in our society and culture and has a -- has a profound legacy.

Layana Aguilar, a "Project Runway" contestant, was just a teenager when Versace was killed.

Layana Aguilar:  I feel his presence -- when I'm designing.

Richard Schlesinger: There are Versace elements in what you're wearing today, aren't there?

Layana Aguilar:  Yes. … Tim Gunn saw this. And he said, "This looks like Versace." And I was like, "Yes, mission accomplished [laughs].

Of course, the memories are infinitely more personal for Michael Williams, who lost his best friend. Two decades later it still hurts.

Richard Schlesinger: This hasn't left you?

Michael Williams: I'm better. It's taken me years. …you know if it was just Jeff being killed, it would be one thing. But then you got David and Lee Miglin and William Reese and Gianni Versace … five people that you're now connected to.

cunanan-victims-combo.jpg

Top left to right:  Jeff Trail, David Madson, Lee Miglin. Botttom left to right: William Reese and Gianni Versace

CBS News

It is a connection no one would ever seek. The world lost an icon, but five families lost loved ones, friends lost friends – all for a reason we'll never know …if there ever was one.

Twenty years after his death, the House of Versace continues to succeed, led by Gianni's sister, Donatella, and brother Santo.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"