Who Were Andrew Cunanan's Other Victims? 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace' Explores His Killing Spree
Gianni Versace was reportedly Andrew Cunanan's fifth and final victim, as well as his most famous. Because of that, news of Versace's murder may have eclipsed the other four men who were also reported to have died by Cunanan's hand. Some people may not even know that Versace's death was the culmination of a spree that took Cunanan from Minnesota to Chicago to New Jersey and finally to Miami. So who were Andrew Cunanan's other victims?
Cunanan was said to have committed four murders over the course of two weeks in the spring of 1997. First was Jeffrey Trail. He was an old friend of Cunanan's, but it seemed like they had begun drifting apart. Trail had moved from San Diego, where Cunanan lived, to Minnesota, but distance wasn't the only issue in their relationship. According to Maureen Orth's book, Vulgar Favors, (upon which the series is based), Trail had told friends that he had had a falling out with Cunanan and didn't want to continue their friendship. A former boyfriend of Trail's named Daniel O’Toole explained to Vanity Fair that Trail was bothered by Cunanan's penchant for lying. "Jeff told me they'd be out in public and Andrew would tell his stories and put Jeff into them and Jeff didn't want anything untrue said about him. Andrew would embarrass him in public," O'Toole said.
He continued, "Andrew was aggressive, obnoxious, and domineering a lot of the time, and it got on Jeff's nerves. But Jeff said he felt sorry for him. Andrew thought he was Jeff's best friend, but Jeff didn't think Andrew was his."
Despite their issues, Cunanan planned to visit Trail in Minneapolis the weekend of April 25. The New York Times reported that before he left, Cunanan told friends he had to "settle some business" with Trail. While in Minneapolis, Cunanan also planned to see his ex-boyfriend David Madson, who would become his second victim. According to Vanity Fair, Cunanan referred to Madson as "the man of my dreams, the man I want to marry" but Madson apparently had no interest in rekindling their relationship.
In Vulgar Favors, Orth explained that Cunanan and Trail had agreed to meet at a cafe by Madson's apartment, where Cunanan was staying. However, the meeting must have shifted to Madson's apartment, because that was where Trail was killed and his body later found wrapped in a rug. He had been struck 27 times with a claw hammer. Cunanan and Madson were gone by the time the body was found, but Orth reported that neighbors had spotted both men in the area in the days immediately following the murder.
Initially, police believed that Madson might be the perpetrator because Trail's body was in his apartment. However, this opinion was revised when Madson was found murdered just a week later, his body left behind on the shores of East Rush Lake and his red Jeep missing. He had been shot three times. It's impossible to say whether or not Madson was present in the apartment when Trail was killed, but ABC News reported that police believed Cunanan held Madson hostage in the window of time between the killings.
Cars were one way to connect Cunanan to his various crimes, though his post-spree suicide meant that he could never confess or be legally convicted. Madson's Jeep was found near the Chicago home of Cunanan's third victim Lee Miglin, whose Lexus Cunanan took when he fled the scene. Miglin was Cunanan's most violent murder, as described in Vulgar Favors. He was found with his head wrapped in masking tape except for two small nostril holes and his legs were bound. He had been beaten and then stabbed with either a tree-pruning pole or a screwdriver; the latter was found in the stolen Lexus after Cunanan abandoned it. Miglin's head had also been partially severed with a bow saw.
The connection between Cunanan and Miglin is uncertain. There were rumors that they may have known one another, or that Cunanan was friendly with Miglin's son Duke. Neither assertion has been officially proven and the Miglin family denied having ever met Cunanan. In Vulgar Favors, Orth reported Cunanan's friends and family claiming he had mentioned a wealthy investor in Chicago who sounded like Miglin, but Cunanan was known to lie.
In May 2017, Duke Miglin told ABC 7 Chicago, "There was no relationship whatsoever. A lot of false things were brought up and they were very hurtful, very painful, for me personally and there were attacks on me as well that I really didn't appreciate. And I still don't."
Cunanan was briefly able to be tracked after Miglin's murder because a phone in the Lexus admitted a signal every time the car was turned on. According to Orth, this information became public knowledge and was confirmed by the police; Cunanan must have heard it because he tried to divest the car of its antenna and then chose to abandon it entirely. But he needed a new car. That was when he killed his fourth victim, William Reese.
Reese was a cemetery caretake who, by all accounts, Cunanan killed purely to take his red pickup truck. Reese was shot in the back of the head and his body left behind in the basement of the caretaker's house in the Finn's Point National Cemetery in New Jersey. The murder weapon was another thing that connected Cunanan to his crimes: he took Trail's gun and used it to kill Madson, Reese, and Versace. Then, a week after Versace's death, Cunanan used the same gun to take his own life.
Cunanan's death means that many details of his crimes will always be inexplicable. One can never know what motivated him or what was going through his mind. The Assassination of Gianni Versace may try to fill in the blanks, but the truth will always be a mystery.
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