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Who Is Andrew Cunanan? 8 Haunting Details About The Serial Killer Who Killed Gianni Versace In Broad Daylight

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Who is Andrew Cunanan?

Who is Andrew Cunanan? Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk sure know how to write a story. They proved it with season one of their true crime anthology series, American Crime Story, where they chronicled the trial of OJ Simpson, and they are proving it again with season 2: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

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For true crime aficionados. the story of Versace's murder at the hands of a virtual stranger, Andrew Cunanan is well-known, but for many who have just started watching the show, Andrew Cunanan is a total mystery. The show definitely takes a little bit of license with its storytelling, so before you go thinking you're an expert, here's everything you need to know about the man who killed Gianni Versace, Andrew Cunanan. 

1. He was a brilliant liar from a very young age. 

Andrew Phillip Cunanan was born on August 31st, 1969 in National City, California to Modesto Cunanan and Mary Anne Schillaci. 

He was the youngest of 4 children born to the Navy veteran turned stockbroker and stay-at-home mom. 

Cunanan had an IQ of 147 and this earned him a placement and scholarship at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, California. 

Most of the other students their came from exceptionally wealthy and otherwise privileged backgrounds, a fact that probably grew Cunanan's sense of insecurity and jealousy around the wealthy for a very young age. 

To compensate, he began to make up stories about his background, claiming his father was an Israeli millionaire, along with other outrageous claims. Looking back, many would speculate Cunanan was showing signs of developing psychopathy even then. 

None of this diminished Cunanan in his family's eyes. "He was my father’s pride and joy," said his brother Christopher Cunanan. "[He was] very smart. When he was about 10 years old, he had read the whole set of encyclopedias...and memorized it. And you could ask him any question. Pick up any edition and ask him any question, and he would tell you.” 

2. He left home at 19 after his mother learned he was gay. 

Cunanan lived at home with his parents until he was 19. Cunanan was known to be gay by everyone in his family except for his mother — though there was never any direct conversation about his sexuality with other family members; they all just "knew". 

He was a regular at gay clubs and bars in National City, and when word got back to his mother that her youngest son was gay, she did not take the news well. Cunanan moved out of the family home not long thereafter and moved to San Francisco where he lived a life out of the closet. 

3. He dropped out of college and pursued wealthy, older men. 

Prior to his move to San Francisco, Cunanan briefly attended the University of California San Diego where he studied American Studies before dropping out after his mother learned about his homosexuality. 

Once in San Francisco, Cunanan made his living seducing older, wealthy men who could finance his lifestyle: a lavish one, worthy of the son of an Israeli millionaire, something Cunanan decidedly was not. These men not only kept Cunanan afloat, but they also helped him sustain the delusion that he was a wealthy and respected pillar of the community. 

In 1996, Norman Blanchford, his long-time wealthy sugar-daddy, ended his relationship with Cunanan and everything that went with it: a $2,000 monthly allowance, a platinum credit card, free travel, and so much more. It was said to be the end of this relationship that was the impetus for Cunanan to unravel and begin to kill. Without money and a station that others would envy, Cunanan had no idea who he really was, and this was more than he could stand. 

4. He killed 4 times before killing Versace. 

Andrew Cunanan was a serial killer, something even those who know he killed Gianni Versace sometimes forget or don't know at all. 

In April 1997, Cunanan flew from San Diego to Minnesota where he beat his former friend Jeff Trail to death with a claw hammer. He rolled up Jeff's body and left it in the apartment of his ex-boyfriend, David Madsen. 

The motive behind the killing of Trail is unknown, though there has been speculation that Cunanan viewed Trail as the man who had come between him and Madsen. 

Cunanan would also shoot and kill Madsen, leaving his body to be discovered on the shores of Rush Lake in Minnesota in May of 1997. 

Later that same month Cunanan would drive to Chicago and murder real-estate developed Lee Miglin. No one has ever been able to establish a connection between the two men. The police believe it was a crime of opportunity, as Cunanan spotted Miglin cleaning out his garage. Cunanan stole Miglin's car and enjoyed a nap and a sandwich in the man's house after killing him.

Cunanan drove Miglin's car to New Jersey where he shot and killed his fourth victim, William Reese. Cunanan's motive here? He wanted to take Reese's car to avoid Miglin's catching any attention on the highway once news of the murder made the press. 

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5. His own friends feared him. 

After the murder of Reese, Cunanan was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Though the FBI had technically made him a "high priority", Cunanan still managed to make his way to Miami where he established residence in a cheap hotel just under 4 miles from Versace's own home. 

Before his killing spree began, Cunanan was known and feared for the intense and ultra-violent pornography he loved to make, something that unsettled some of his own friends. 

After the murder of Versace when Cunanan's story began to finally gain national press, his own friends and former lovers all fled their homes in abject terror that Andrew Cunanan would be coming for them next. They were right to be afraid.

6. His obsession with Versace began in 1990. 

At the Colossus night club in San Francisco in 1990, Andrew Cunanan actually met Gianni Versace and spoke with him. 

He claimed to have met Versace previously at his villa in Italy, but whether or not there is truth to this is entirely unknown. Either way, Versace and Cunanan spoke for a bit that evening, and from there on out Cunanan would not hesitate to drop the designer's name into nearly every conversation he took part in. 

7. He shot and killed Versace in broad daylight. 

On July 15th 1997, Andrew Cunanan shot and killed Gianni Versace as the designer was returning home after his usual morning walk. There were multiple witnesses to the shooting, in fact, one witness tried to chase Cunanan down, but the man escaped. 

Police were able to find the late Reese's now-abandoned pick-up truck, along with clippings about the other murders, dirty clothes, and a passport. 

8. He killed himself using the same gun he used to kill Versace. 

Andrew Cunanan shot and killed himself 8 days after he murdered Gianni Versace. He even used the same gun to do the dirty deed.

His body was found when a caretaker heard gunshots in a supposedly-unoccupied houseboat and contacted the authorities. 

When the police arrived they recovered the killer's remains but having left no note, Cunanan's suicide just left more questions and pain for all of those left behind.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.