Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster


"Death is an evil; the gods have so judged; had it been good, they would die."


Finns Point Cemetery in Pennsville, New Jersey, just across the river from Delaware, dates back more than a hundred years. In its sod are Civil War veterans, Union soldiers who had fought for the nation and Confederate soldiers who had died in incarceration at a nearby prisoner of war camp. It was to these peaceful, historically fertile grounds that Andrew Cunanan had come to hide out and rest a bit before he continued on the lam.

An APB (All Points Bulletin) had been issued for his arrest. Realizing that the Lexus and its license plates were on every law officers spot list, he required a change of vehicles. He was amazed he had come this far and had, with a little self-prodding, convinced himself that he just well may be unstoppable. All it would take is to think ahead. Circling the cemetery, he spotted a red 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck parked outside what looked like a caretakers house set back off the path. Pulling aside, he stepped up to the door and knocked.

Inside, William Reese heard it. He turned down the gospel station he was listening to and answered the rapping. He would be dead within a minute.

William Reese (Sygma)
William Reese (Sygma)

Reese, 45 years old, was a former electrician who had quit his job to take care of the cemetery he cherished. A historical enthusiast and founder of a local Civil War reenactment group, he loved to wander its turf and gaze at the old graves; to him each one told a story. And as he mowed and watered the lawns, trimmed the tree branches and kept his place immaculate, his imagination wandered. He was a man who loved his job. He was quiet, never bothered anyone, but was always there to help. This morning, May 9, Reese had kissed his wife and young son goodbye at their home in Deerfield Township. He promised to be home by dinnertime.

The dark-haired stranger at the door asked if he might have a glass of water to take an aspirin. Reese nodded certainly and led Andrew into the small kitchen in the rear of the house. When turning round from the faucet, glass in hand, he faced a revolver barrel. "Give me your truck keys!" Andrew demanded. "Of course, I dont want no trouble," is all Reese said as he reached in his pockets to hand over the key ring. Andrew smiled, took the keys, and shot him anyway. Point blank.

The police were stumped. "For the first time since the search for Patty Hearst, the bureau had to distribute information on the killer without fingerprints," notes author Wensley Clarkson. All wanted posters they issued did, however, exhibit several faces of Andrew Cunanan to demonstrate his talent of being able to "look different" from place to place. What really scared the police, though, apart from his inhuman elusiveness, was that no one knew where he was headed or when he would strike again. And they were sure he would strike again.

When William Reeses body was placed to rest in the folkloric cemetery he maintained, members of his Civil War group, the 14th Brooklyn Society, gave him a six-gun salute. Widow Rebecca looked up with tears in her eyes, whispering, "He would have loved it."

But, it was obvious in all the mourners faces, even in that of the Methodist minister who gave the service, that the parting would have been much sweeter had those six guns fired upon Andrew Cunanan.



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