Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster

Unlike a Fugitive

"We kill time; time buries us."

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

The nation was asking, the FBI was asking, his family was asking, his friends were asking: What was motivating Andrew Cunanan? In San Francisco among the gay community they entertained the notions of either the green-eyed monster Jealousy or the possibility that he may have flipped out upon discovering he was HIV-positive. These were the two main suppositions that the law enforcement agencies, thence the press, picked up on both without supporting evidence but both the only logical guesses anyone had to go on.

Did he have anything personal against his victims? This was an even more untenable question. The FBI tried to propose a theory based on the individual murders as part of an ongoing killing spree. Perhaps, the experts pondered, Jeff Trail may have infected him with the AIDS virus. But, why slay Madson? Early suspicions that Madson was done away with because he was a witness to the Trail murder lost credence when Andrew began purposely leaving symbolic "calling cards" behind as if he wanted the police to know who he was. As for Miglin, he appeared to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when Andrew decided to live out some warped fantasy encouraged by a sicko torture flick. Reese? Probably no more than someone with something an escaped fugitive desperately needed: a set of wheels.

Andrews next murder seems to have been premeditated. Almost as if the others were "practice shots" to build up his nerve and refine his skills. This is concluded by the fact that he chose as his destination the spot of glitz and fun, of surf and sand, Miami Beach. Here his target was known to reside. Seaside, Andrew loitered as if in waiting. But he didnt linger in the shadows nor peer squinty-eyed through closed drapes. Strange as it seems, the Top Ten Wanted Killer made very little effort to conceal himself. More oddly, he roamed at will in the open air and among crowds night and day for more than two months undetected.

He shuffled through the sands of the beaches, hung around the trendy spas on the boardwalk, occasionally lunched in the well-lit salad bars, relaxed under the prism-splashed umbrella of a cafe table. Miami Beach, as described by writer Richard Lacayo in a Time magazine article "is a laboratory of instant gratification, full of clubs and in-line skaters and muscle guys with deltoids like the gas tanks on a Harley." Here Andrew came to play and gleefully watched the police cars drive casually by him.

He arrived in Miami Beach on May 10, 1997, parked Reeses stolen Chevy truck in a public parking garage and strolled to an inn he had spotted while cruising. Without luggage, he registered into the Normandy Plaza Hotel. At one time a beach front Xanadu for the movie stars of the 1940s, the Normandy had not aged well. It had by the 1970s become a discount lodging for truckers and transients, either nightly or long-term. Its rooms were clean and here Andrew stayed throughout most of his time in Miami. Opting for their monthly plan Andrew was assigned a third floor room, Room 322, at $690 per month. For dinner, he usually ate at a nearby Italian restaurant.

The manhunt didnt deter occasional visits to the gay strip, to places like The Twist, a dance hall for men of his sexual persuasion. He had heard the police were watching these places, but he braved the elements anyway and continued to pick up and go home with interested lovers. Almost as if on instinct, he would wear disguises. Sometimes, he would shave his legs and wear womens clothing for the purpose of titillating some male who found transvestitism arousing. He shaved his head on a lark, even wore a mohawk for awhile. In the daylight, he donned a pair of shades and a cap, and with white khakis or shorts, blended in amongst the sun worshippers. As the national media grew tired of asking where was Andrew Cunanan and news headlines focused on other things, Andrew grew bolder. He became a regular, sans makeup, at the tennis courts by day and the bistros by night.

But, his brain never idled. The germ that lay there burned and continued to grow. While always on guard for he knew better than to totally relax he continued to dream of his next conquest, one for which he knew the FBI wasnt prepared. The ultimate conquest. Afternoons he would stroll down 11th Street and pause a block from the ocean in front of the Renaissance facade of the Gianni Versace mansion, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man he intended to kill. A glimpse is all it would take.