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FBI sets up phone line to collect tips

Andrew Cunanan

Woman claims to have photos of Cunanan at Versace's party

July 20, 1997
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT)

MIAMI (CNN) -- A Brazilian woman claims to have photographs and video of Andrew Cunanan -- the man suspected of killing Gianni Versace -- at an informal get-together at the Italian fashion designer's mansion two days before his slaying, Newsweek magazine reports in its July 28 edition.

However, Versace's family and friends deny that he and Cunanan were acquaintances, saying the idea is inconceivable, Newsweek reported.

On Sunday, the FBI announced that it had established a toll-free phone number for people to call with tips on Cunanan's whereabouts.

"Should you have any information regarding Andrew Phillip Cunanan, take no action yourself, but instead call 1-888-324-9800 or contact the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the bureau said in a statement.

Newsweek: FBI checking out story

According to Newsweek, an unidentified Brazilian woman claimed she attended a gathering at Versace's mansion last Sunday and that Cunanan was among the small crowd. She told authorities that she has pictures and video to prove her statements.

Versace was shot to death on the steps of his home Tuesday morning.

A senior Brazilian law-enforcement officer contacted the FBI after learning of the woman's account. The FBI then dispatched a Portuguese-speaking agent to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to interview the woman and collect her photographs and video for examination, Newsweek said.

Cunanan, who is gay, reportedly has had a pattern of relying on wealthy gay men for financial support in the past. Versace was both wealthy and gay, but friends of the designer continue to insist that they know of no connection between the two.

In their current editions, both Newsweek and Time cite sources who say the two may have met in the early 1990s at an opera party in San Francisco. Newsweek also reported that a man once involved with Cunanan owns a home in northern Italy, not far from one of Versace's homes.

Cunanan sought in five slayings

In addition to Versace's death, Cunanan is also being sought for four other slayings in a spree that began in late April. Those slayings occurred in Minnesota, Illinois and New Jersey.

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Since Versace's murder, authorities have been combing South Florida in search of Cunanan. They are even exploring the possibility that he may be trying to elude them by dressing as a woman.

The Newsweek report said there are indications that Cunanan could have known Versace's morning routine, which included a daily stroll that took him four blocks away to the News Cafe where the designer bought magazines.

Newsweek said security cameras recorded Cunanan checking out the cafe the day before the slaying, about 30 minutes before Versace made his rounds. Time reported that Versace approached the cafe by an unusual route, possibly indicating he may have believed someone was following him.

Both magazines reported that Versace didn't like his mansion's security video cameras and that they weren't rolling on the day of his murder.

 
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