Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster

Trail and Madson

"Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with it."

Le Rochefoucauld

Andrew had been having symptoms associated with AIDS. Having gone for tests in early 1997, he never returned for the diagnoses, but convinced himself he did indeed contract the disease. Dark urges that had been scratching his brain now festered. It bothered him that within the gay circle passing ones mid-20s was considered getting old; Andrew had just turned 28. Despondent, he let his appearance go. His usually well-layered, well-trimmed hair grew long and uncombed; he gained 30 pounds; trendy dress turned sloppy and cheap. Time magazine writer Richard Lacayo adds, "(Andrew) was taking the pain killers he sometimes sold to make money, adding vodka to his usual straight cranberry juice..."

By 1997, he had deserted or had been deserted by his wealthy lovers. His credit cards, which they left him with the responsibility of paying off, exceeded the limit. It then became clear to him he was broke without direction.

Worse, he burned with jealousy. Two of his young lovers, Jeff Trail and David Madson, were seeing each other behind his back.

Jeffrey Trail (Sygma)
Jeffrey Trail (Sygma)

Jeff Trail was a young Navy officer intern when Andrew met him in 1992. From DeKalb, Illinois, boy-faced blonde-haired Trail had come from a respectable family. By the time he acquainted Andrew, he was fresh from the U.S. Naval Training Academy in Annapolis, serving on the USS Gridley docked in San Diego Harbor. Gay, he secretly lived with a fellow officer until he and Andrew began an affair. They saw each other quite frequently. Then, tired of the restrictions of the military life, Trail resigned to accept a managerial job with a propane manufacturer located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cunanan was heartbroken. He promised to visit him regularly in his new city.

David Madson (Sygma)
David Madson (Sygma)

During one of these trips, while dining, Andrew spotted another old flame he had not seen in a while but also had retained a romantic interest in, rich, young architect David Madson from San Francisco. Andrew learned that Madson, like Trail, had migrated to Minneapolis in the meantime. Over lunch, the architect learned that Trail was new to the city and promised to introduce him to the "circle" in which he traveled. This irritated Andrew who still had his eyes on both men and did not favor the possibly that both might become intimate.

Something else gnawed at Andrew. Both Trail and Madson had become everything that he could never be. They were professionally developed and had much in common; he had remained stagnant. "He felt jealous," says Clarkson in Death at Every Stop, "because they both seemed to have a much better life than him. (Also) Madsons and Trails families appeared to have accepted their sexuality. He sorely wished the same could have been said for himself."

Brooding in California, his jealousy grew until, in late April 1997, something rabid had overtaken him. On impulse, he phoned Trail to prod him. The latter denied an affair, but Andrew insisted that he was lying. Expletives from each followed. Before he slammed the phone down, Andrew yelled, "Im going to kill you!"

That evening at a bar he told a friend, "Ill be gone for awhile. I need to finish some business." Then he ordered an airline ticket.

David Madson picked him up at the municipal airport in Minneapolis on April 26, 1997, and brought him back to his loft apartment in an upscale part of town. He promised to settle Andrews suspicions once and for all by having Jeff Trail at his house where both men promised to convince him that nothing was going on between them. Friends from the West Coast, upon learning of Andrews destination, called Madson to warn him to be careful: Andrew has been acting very strangely. But, easy-going Madson replied, "Well, I think he needs a friend and I think hes trying to get his life straightened out. He just needs somebody."

When Trail entered Madsons apartment the following evening there was tension in the air. It had been the first time that he had spoken to Andrew since the heated phone conversation. Moments into the set-up meeting, Andrew and Trail began hurtling further insults at each other and, despite Madsons attempts at mediation, the argument turned violent. Around 9:45 PM, neighbors in the building began wondering about that ruckus sounding from the usually quiet loft apartment above.

In the midst of the fight, Madson panicked when he saw Andrew dart for the kitchen utility drawer and withdraw a heavy club hammer. Trail saw it too. Before either of the other men could react, Andrew brought the force of the weapon down on Trails skull over and over again. Blood splattered across the room and on the killer as Trail, a battered rag doll, crumpled to the ground.

Stunned by what he had witnessed, Madsons mind blanked. He found himself helping Andrew roll the corpse into the Persian rug that had covered the living room floor. They would need to dispose of the body, they knew, at first chance. But, for two days the victim remained shoved aside in the rug in a corner of the room behind the sofa while the other two men plotted their next move. Fellow tenants reported later that, during this time, they spotted both Madson and Cunanan coming and going to and from the building as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

When Madson failed to report to work after a couple of days, a co-worker phoned him. Receiving no answer and concerned over foul play, the co-worker asked the landlord to check in on David. When the building manager, in turn, investigated he discovered bloodstains on the floor and walls and Jeff Trails bludgeoned body stuffed in the rug. The murderer and his sudden accomplice, learning that their secret was unearthed, hightailed it from Minneapolis in Madsons Red Jeep Cherokee. In Andrews jacket pocket was a .40 caliber handgun that, oddly enough, had been left behind in California by Jeff Trail when he relocated to the Midwest. The cylinder was loaded with at least three bullets. In another pocket, Andrew carried another seven.

Police found Andrews knapsack back at Madsons place. Inside were articles of identification that immediately named the killer, as well as an empty holster and cartridge box. When they searched Jeff Trails apartment later for something that might hint as to why he was murdered, all they found was a message on his phone recorder. They listened to this eerie message. The voice on the other end was Andrew Cunanan inviting Jeff to David Madsons loft to talk things over.

The killing was far from over. Andrew felt like he was on a spree. He enjoyed the sensation. It was pleasant to release so much hostility. Forty-five miles north of Minneapolis, on a country lane leading to Duluth, Andrew pulled Madsons Jeep over to the edge of the road and pumped three bullets into his friend.


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