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Cunanan's death brings relief in Miami, San Diego
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Cunanan saga ends, but other fugitives remain at large

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S P E C I A L Cunanan Coverage

Cunanan died in another fugitive's houseboat

Andrew Cunanan

Suspected killer shot himself, police say

July 24, 1997
Web posted at: 2:48 p.m. EDT (1848 GMT)

Latest developments:

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- With the death of Andrew Cunanan confirmed on Thursday, the mystery of "Where is he?" became "How did he get there?"

The presumed killer of fashion designer Gianni Versace and four other men killed himself with a gunshot to the face, authorities said. The body was found on Wednesday night in a Miami Beach houseboat, moored 2 1/2 miles from where the Versace was gunned down last week.

The houseboat is owned by a man wanted on fraud charges in his native Germany.

Versace's family released a brief statement Thursday expressing "both gratitude and sorrow in thanking those who have contributed to resolving the horrible assassination of Gianni."

Cunanan, a 27-year-old San Diego native, was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and had eluded a nationwide manhunt for nearly three months. On Thursday, Cunanan's picture on the FBI Web site had a red diagonal slash through it. On it were the words, "Found Dead."

vxtreme
Police announce Cunanan's death

In a statement Thursday, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh thanked the public for its help in the manhunt. They said Cunanan's death "brings to an end a vicious crime spree."

Thumbprint confirms identity

"The reign of terror brought upon us by Andrew Cunanan is over," Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto told reporters Thursday in an early morning news briefing. (icon 148 K / 14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Cunanan

He said the thumbprint of the man found dead after a four-hour siege by police matched that of Cunanan, adding that police had not used their weapons when they stormed the boat.

A gun "very similar" to the .40-caliber pistol linked by the FBI to three of Cunanan's alleged murders was found at the scene, he added.

Further details would be revealed later Thursday, Barreto said.

'Difficult for him to move about'

Versace

Versace was shot and killed July 15 at the gate of his oceanfront mansion in the trendy art deco South Beach area of Miami Beach, 40 blocks south of the houseboat's mooring.

Cunanan did not travel far after that, Barreto indicated. "There was an unprecedented level of pressure put on this man by law enforcement, by media exposure (and) by the general public looking for him," he said.

"I think he was a desperate person. He was in a situation where it was very, very difficult for him to move about."

Houseboat map

The houseboat -- which sits on a branch of the Intracoastal Waterway called Indian Creek -- is about a mile from the hotel where a man fitting Cunanan's description stayed for as long as two months before Versace was killed.

Conflicting accounts of when body found

More than 100 police and FBI agents surrounded the floating, two-story home Wednesday night after its caretaker reported hearing a gunshot when he approached the site about 3:45 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Four hours later, officers fired tear gas and six SWAT team members dressed in black flak jackets and armed with rifles and a shield moved in.

There were conflicting reports Thursday about when exactly the body was found.

Slideshow of scenes from the incident
Sequence of events of Cunanan's last day as described by the Chief of Police.
video icon QuickTime slideshow
413 K / 47 sec. / 240x180 pixels

Initial statements from law enforcement officials indicated that Cunanan's body was not found until a third inspection of the boat. Barreto said the tear gas made the initial search more difficult.

But on CNN's "Burden of Proof" Thursday afternoon, a Miami Beach police sergeant challenged that account, saying the body was found just minutes into the search.

"The SRT (special response team) from Metro-Dade police department found the body within two minutes of entering the houseboat," insisted Miami Beach police Sergeant Howard Zeifman.

There was no immediate explanation for the conflicting accounts.

According to an unconfirmed report, investigators suspect the shot that the caretaker heard was the suicide shot.

Houseboat owner wanted in Germany

Records showed the houseboat, which had been vacant for several months, is owned by Torsten Reineck, who has lived both in Germany and the United States and owns the Apollo Spa, a gay health spa in Las Vegas.

Reineck has been wanted by German authorities since 1992 for suspected tax evasion and fraud. It is not clear if he knew Cunanan.

In addition to the Versace killing, Cunanan also was wanted for the murders of his former lover Jeffrey Trail, 28, in late April; their mutual friend David Madson, 33, in May; Lee Miglin, 72, also in May; and William Reese, 45, also in May.

Cunanan had eluded an intensive nationwide search that generated hundreds of claimed sightings all over the country.

He managed to escape capture even though his picture was plastered on television, newspapers, the Internet and wanted posters.

Correspondents Robert Vito and Brian Jenkins contributed to this report.

 
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