There is new information from the ABC7 I-Team in a case that stunned the nation and the fashion world 17 years ago. It was then that designer Gianni Versace was gunned down on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion. The case of the street-side assassination of the fashion mogul is still yielding new information.
The I-Team has learned that local authorities first thought Versace might have been cut down by a mob hitman and called in the FBI because of a possible organized crime connection. There are now new details in the old case about the moments and days immediately after Versace was shot and killed in front of his South Beach mansion.
When Versace was murdered 17 years ago, a friend of the designer's actually saw the fatal shot. According to FBI records the gunman "was followed by a friend of Versace's who observed the subject walk north to 12th Street, then head west into an alley, at which time the subject turned and pointed a gun at the witness who fled the area and lost contact with the subject."
The voluminous FBI file on the case reveals that "Miami Beach homicide detectives requested FBI agents respond to the crime scene, initially thinking that Versace may have been killed a result of a murder for hire or some organized crime connection."
Of course it wasn't a gangland hit. It was Andrew Cunanan, who took down Versace at the end of a country murder spree, a criminal odyssey that left Chicago business tycoon Lee Miglin dead along the way. FBI investigative notes on Cunanan state that: "Gianna Versace was shot and killed, subject is believed to be the killer and may, or may not be, targeting former lovers or clients who may have given him AIDS."
In an email to a New York news outlet that Cunanan sent after the Versace murder, he wrote "I love all the news. Any gay rich man who have been with will get there's very good."
Cunanan also had created an elaborate misdirection scheme in an attempt to get away with murder. While he was the target of a nationwide manhunt, he tried to evade authorities by sending out emails stating that he was in New York City (when he wasn't) and that his next victim would be in New York (which it wasn't.)
Those emails were actually sent from the killer's houseboat hideaway on the Miami Beach Intracoastal, a few miles from Versace mansion murder scene, where he would eventually kill himself.
Cunanan died at his own hand ten days after the Versace murder, one of at least five murders attributed to him. Cunanan's remains are in a crypt at a Catholic cemetery in San Diego, the city where he was living prior to the start of the killing spree.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie.
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