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Search for Andrew Cunanan intensifies

Cunanan

$55,000 offered for murder suspect's capture

July 17, 1997
Web posted at: 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 GMT)

Latest developments:

MIAMI (CNN) -- Florida law enforcement agencies and the FBI have intensified their "full court press" in the hunt for suspected serial killer Andrew Cunanan, the prime suspect in the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Reward money posted for Cunanan's capture totalled $55,000 Thursday, and officials made pleas for public help in finding Cunanan, whom they believe is likely still in the Miami area.

Authorities were using the media, fliers and even the Internet to spread information that might lead to a break in the case.

"Across the globe, Andrew Cunanan is ... a marked man. The world is on notice," said Metro-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas.

"Today I am asking for calm, and I am asking for caution ... because Andrew Cunanan is still out there somewhere," he said.

Tips being prioritized, checked

Law enforcement agencies say they have been flooded with hundreds of tips about Cunanan, 27, who is a suspect in four other killings -- in Minnesota, Illinois and New Jersey -- that have occurred since late April.

On Thursday, Chicago prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Cunanan in connection with the May 4 slaying of Lee Miglin, a wealthy developer. Minnesota had already filed murder charges against him.

Police have 'positive leads'

"Numerous leads have come in from South Florida. We are determining how valid they are and then putting them in priority and pursuing the most important leads first," said Paige Patterson, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "There have been some real positive tips."

Thursday morning, the slaying of a wealthy doctor in the fashionable suburb of Miami Springs sent law enforcement officials scrambling after a witness reported seeing a man fitting Cunanan's description running from the area.

But later Thursday, Metro-Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez said, "We have no reason to believe the two crimes are linked together."

There were reports that the victim -- 44-year-old Silvio Alfonso -- was gay, though a neighbor and close friend, Reginald Bottari, discounted those reports. Cunanan and three of his victims, including Versace, were gay, and the suspect is believed to have a pattern of relying on wealthy gay men for financial support.

Also Thursday, police in Boca Raton, north of Miami, issued a bulletin for a stolen black Nissan Pathfinder after a patron at a gay bar reported seeing a man resembling Cunanan driving the vehicle. The vehicle has a Florida license plate with the number LLM-782.

FBI spokeswoman Anne Figueiras said at a news briefing Thursday that authorities were employing a "full-court press" in their search for the fugitive homosexual gigolo who has been on the agency's "Ten Most Wanted" list for eight weeks.

Private, public memorials planned

Versace

Versace's body was cremated in Miami on Wednesday after a private memorial service attended by family members. The 50-year-old designer was shot twice in the head Thursday with a .40-caliber handgun on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion.

His family reportedly took the ashes to his native Italy for another private memorial service in Milan. A memorial service open to the public will be held Friday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Miami Beach.

Versace's family has asked that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations be made to the Elton John AIDS Foundation or the Sting Rainforest Foundations.

His brother and sisters, Donatella and Santo Versace, issued a statement appealing for "silence and expressions of grief" as opposed to media hype over his "cold-blooded murder" and said they will discuss the future of his fashion design company when they deem it appropriate.

Man on surveillance video may be the suspect

Surveillance video for a hotel someone running through an alley shortly after the killing of Gianni Versace
video icon 160K/6 sec. QuickTime movie

Meanwhile, police said a videotape from a security camera at a hotel near Versace's home shows a man in shorts and a T-shirt running down an alley after the murder. Witnesses said the killer wore similar clothing.

The man is seen on the upper left side of the black and white image, moving away from the camera. Although the surveillance tape shows the time as being 8:47 p.m., authorities believe the time code was improperly set and that the correct time is 8:47 a.m.

Authorities have offered no motive for Versace's killing and did not say whether he and Cunanan might have known each other.

 
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