Andrew Cunanan Biography

Murderer (1969–1997)
Andrew Cunanan was a murderer who killed fashion designer Gianni Versace, and at least four other people, before commiting suicide in a Miami houseboat.

Who Was Andrew Cunanan?

Andrew Cunanan was born on August 31, 1969 in San Diego, California. He settled in San Francisco’s Castro district and socialized with older, wealthy gay men while indulging heavily in drugs. It's unclear what set him off but he began a cross-country killing spree of five known murders - the last of which was fashion designer Gianni Versace. Cunanan killed himself on a Miami houseboat in 1997.

Andrew Cunanan Photo

Andrew Cunanan

Parents & Siblings

Born August 31, 1969 in San Diego, California. Cunanan was raised by a religious Italian-American mother, Mary Anne Schillaci, and prestige-conscious Filipino-American father, Modesto Cunanan. Though a disciplinarian, his father was not violent, and Cunanan did not experience the early childhood traumas that experts often tag as typical of violent criminals. Cunanan was the youngest of four, his brother and sisters being: Christopher Cunanan, Elena Cunanan, and Regina Cunanan.

Early Life

On the surface, the highly intelligent Cunanan reveled in his life as a young, attractive gay male. He typically socialized with much older, wealthier men, and eventually settled in San Francisco's gay Castro district. By the time he was 21 years old, he spoke seven languages and was becoming well acquainted with the finer things in life.

However, beneath this cheerful facade lurked a much darker side that became exacerbated by an insatiable need for drugs, kinky sex and material wealth. In his teens, Cunanan had prostituted himself, and he soon became obsessed with violent pornography, often taking part in the films himself.

Serial Murderer

By 1997, Cunanan had sunk into a depression after one after another of his wealthy lovers left him. Some wonder if he discovered he was HIV positive and that perhaps this devastating news, combined with a brooding, obsessive jealousy, was what may have led him to his first victim, former lover Jeff Trail. The gruesome murder started a killing spree that left the FBI stumped. Rather than going into hiding, Cunanan flouted authorities, killing three others before reentering the gay social scene, this time in Miami, Florida.

Murder of Gianni Versace

Unable to catch Cunanan, authorities had all but given up, and the media seemed to have cooled as well. That July, Cunanan took the life of his next and final victim, world-famous fashion designer Gianni Versace. Police were blamed for not having warned the Miami gay community about Cunanan, and their every step was scrutinized following Versace's murder. After the police had surrounded him on a houseboat in South Florida, Cunanan shot himself before he could be arrested. His autopsy showed he did not have HIV which debunked the theory that the diagnosis triggered his murderous spree. His motives were never determined.

READ ARTICLE: "Was Gianni Versace's Shooter a Spree Murderer or a Serial Killer?" on A&E Real Crime Blog.  

'The Assassination of Gianni Versace'

Premiering in January 2018, FX's second season of American Crime Story depicts Cunanan's killing spree in The Asssasination of Gianni Versace. Actor Darren Criss plays the role of Cunanan.

Cunanan has also been the subject of true crime television, including an episode on TruTV's Mugshots entitled "Andrew Cunanan The Versace Killer."

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