Serial killer Andrew Cunanan made global headlines in 1997 when he murdered at least five people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace and Chicago tycoon Lee Miglin.
On July 23, 1997, Cunanan — holed up in a houseboat and surrounded by police and the media after his killing spree — fatally shot himself. He was 27 years old.
The (sometimes heavily redacted) files released by the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act provide a fascinating window into the investigation — and into Andrew Cunanan, a.k.a. Andrew DeSilva.
- Cunanan changed his name — and life story — as frequently as his appearance. According to the FBI file, Cunanan was known as Andrew DeSilva, Kurt Matthew Demars, and Drew Cunningham. The file also quotes an unidentified friend who speculates on how Cunanan chose at least one of his identities. According to the friend, the DeSilva family was one of the richest families in the world who “lived in the Rancho Santa Fe area of California and are quite prominent in charity and social work in the community.”
- Friends of Cunanan appeared to be surprised by his crimes, but several consistently described him as vain and obsessed with wealth. One friend, whose name was redacted in the FBI files, said that Andrew “glamorized violence, and while watching movies would comment if someone did that to me ‘I’d go on a five state killing spree.’ He thought he was just kidding at the time. [The friend] also characterized Cunanan as ‘a delicate butterfly’ who constantly fantasized about being rich. He lived the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ by hanging on and pretending.”
- Andrew was described in the FBI files as highly intelligent, and his IQ was listed as between 147 and 160. His report cards from the prestigious Bishop’s School show that he was a solid student in subjects including AP English and Latin — and earned A’s in “Philosophical Ethics.”
- The FBI investigated rumors that Andrew may have known, or allegedly been sexually involved with, Lee Miglin. “Cunanan was into the ‘S&M’ scene, and was possibly taking heroin. Murder victim Lee Miglin was also possibly into S&M [redacted]. [Redacted name] had third or fourth-hand information from reliable [redacted] that Miglin was into the S&M scene.” However the FBI would later state that they had not found evidence of a relationship between Miglin and Cunanan.
- He was incredibly generous, but not with his own money. Despite the fact that friends said he was generous, constantly carried a roll of cash, and often referenced traveling to Europe and New York, Cunanan’s only regular job was as a Thrifty Drug Store clerk in Rancho Bernardo, California.
- His postcards to David Madsen provide a window into his pathological lying habits. At the time, Cunanan was dating a much older man whom he was traveling with — and to Madsen, he referred to his lover as his “business partner.” He wrote to Madsen that he was going to Paris — “the world’s most romantic city with the world’s least romantic guy.”
- Cunanan did not have the HIV virus, but he did not know that. Cunanan had reportedly never been tested for the virus during his lifetime, but had gone as far as seeing a counselor for information. He is reported to have said to friends, “If I had AIDS or if someone did that to me, I would go on a five-state killing spree and take everyone with me I could.” After his death, his body was tested during his autopsy, and the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that he was HIV negative. In the FBI files, an HIV diagnosis is speculated about as a possible motive for Cunanan’s murder spree: “Subject is believed to be a killer who may or may not be targeting former lovers or clients who may have given him AIDS.”
To learn more about the case, watch the “The Body in the Rug” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Six Degrees of Murder on ID GO!
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Main photo: Andrew Cunanan Wanted Poster [Federal Bureau of Investigation]