Why Did Andrew Cunanan Kill Gianni Versace?

We live in a world that seems to equate fame and wealth with the worth of a person. Perhaps that's why, despite the fact that Andrew Cunanan murdered five people in a still-mysterious killing spree, he's primarily remembered for his fifth and final victim: world-renowned fashion designer Gianni Versace. In fact, the Miami Herald says some psychologists have speculated that Versace's fame made him a target for Cunanan. No one really knows his motive, but by the time Cunanan shot Versace in July 1997, he was already on the FBI's Most Wanted list, according to Town and Country Magazine. He had murdered four wealthy gay men in other parts of the country, and authorities suspected he was headed to Miami.

Cunanan actually spent four weeks in the city before murdering Versace. Yet the FBI declined to warn local authorities. A single TV station, WSVN-7, covered the fact that the killer could be in their midst after a reporter discovered an alarming FBI flyer. However, according to the station's director, even then the FBI "led us to believe the fliers were fairly routine and not a major concern for the community." Did the FBI have reason to suspect that Cunanan wouldn't target Versace or another wealthy member of Miami's gay community? Why drove him to kill the acclaimed fashion designer or anyone else?

Cunanan's mysterious killing spree might have started with heartache

In the decades following Versace's death, there's still no clear indication of Andrew Cunanan's motives. Law enforcement never had a chance to interrogate him. As described by the Miami Herald, after Cunanan murdered Versace, he fatally shot himself while holed up in a houseboat. Did his other killings hold a clue? Cunanan was a man with expensive taste and dated well-to-do men to feed his greed. Biography writes that Cunanan became deeply depressed after one of his lovers left him, and sometime afterward the murders began.

According to Time magazine, the FBI said Cunanan's first victim, Jeffrey Trail, was brutally beaten to death with a hammer in April 1997 "for reasons that remain unclear." Next he shot ex-lover David Madson and not long after that repeatedly stabbed Lee Miglin. His fourth slaying, which ended the life of Lee Miglin, might be the only one with a discernible motive: stealing Miglin's truck. Some people floated the unsubstantiated theory that Cunanan contracted HIV from a partner and went on a vengeance-driven killing spree. But the killer's autopsy quashed that theory after tests came back negative for HIV. It seems Cunanan's motives will remain buried with him.