Why the 1997 Murder of Gianni Versace Is Still So Haunting
But in 1997, especially in those first few days, even the most basic of questions—had Cunanan ever met Versace, what was his relationship to the owner of the houseboat where he was found dead, did he have HIV/AIDS (he didn’t), why did he kill five people in three months, why did he kill Versace, did he kill Versace—abounded.
The youngest of four children and a native of National City, Calif., in true made-for-TV fashion Cunanan was handsome, well-groomed, witty, intelligent and cultivated, in the sense that he schooled himself in the finer things in life so that he would be ready to immerse himself in those finer things when his time came—and he hobnobbed just enough with the upper crust to make his stories of living the jet-set life believable. He certainly knew who Versace was but, though they’re said to have crossed paths about seven years before the murders, there’s no evidence that he ever particularly registered in the super-star designer’s consciousness.
Basically, if Patricia Highsmith hadn’t written the story in 1955, The Talented Mr. Ripley could’ve been inspired by Andrew Cunanan. But at the end of the day, he didn’t look like someone you would see on the street, or even at your door, and be afraid of.
At some point in 1996, he moved out of the home of a wealthy La Jolla businessman, whom he sometimes accompanied to social events, where he’d been living for about a year. No one knew what prompted his change in address, though it didn’t seem to have been Cunanan’s idea.
In April 1997, Cunanan told friends he was moving to San Francisco (where he had lived for awhile after dropping out of college) but was first flying to Minnesota to “settle some business.”