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S P E C I A L Cunanan Coverage

FBI: Cunanan may have used boat as base

Body removed July 24, 1997
Web posted at: 5:29 p.m. EDT (2129 GMT)

MIAMI (CNN) -- Suspected serial killer Andrew Cunanan may have been holed up for days in a houseboat along Miami Beach before he put a .40-caliber handgun to his head and pulled the trigger, a federal investigator said Thursday.

The boat was moored about 2 1/2 miles from where fashion designer Gianni Versace was gunned down last week. Cunanan was the accused killer of Versace and four other men.

"He was there a good bit of time," FBI Miami Agent-in-Charge Paul Philip said at an afternoon news conference, referring to the boat. "The houseboat had electricity. It had water. So it's quite possible that he was in there or using it as a base of operation."

Philip said authorities combed the area where the boat is located after the Versace killing, going from door-to-door in their exhaustive manhunt. It was not clear if Cunanan was at the houseboat or if it was checked by authorities at the time.

vxtreme Law enforcement authorities press conference.

"We've been knocking on doors all over South Florida," Philip said. "This was nothing fancy. It's simple, old-fashioned, hard police work: knocking on doors and talking to folks."

Cunanan's body was removed from the boat more than 14 hours after a police siege began Wednesday. Authorities were tipped off after a caretaker visiting the houseboat reported hearing a shot. Authorities said Cunanan died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.


It took the police until early Thursday to confirm that the corpse was Cunanan's, based in part on his thumbprint. He had shot himself in the face.

The Dade County Medical Examiner Department said Cunanan shot himself in the mouth.

German authorities said the owner of the houseboat, Torsten Reineck, is a fugitive wanted on fraud charges.

"We'd very much like to chat with him," Philip said of Reineck. "If we find that somebody has been harboring (Cunanan), we'll proceed against them federally. I'll tell you that."

SWAT team members who stormed the houseboat late Wednesday found Cunanan's body on the bed in the upstairs master bedroom, agent Keith Evans said in an affidavit. Large amounts of blood were seen coming from the suspect's ears, mouth and nose and he had a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun lying on his groin, the affidavit said.

Sequence of events of Cunanan's last day as described by the Chief of Police.
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The same type of gun was used in the Versace slaying and in two others in which Cunanan was a suspect.

The FBI said it found evidence inside the houseboat that may be linked to the five murders, including a blue safe in the bedroom where Cunanan was found. The affidavit said it wasn't known whether Cunanan had access to the safe, but that it may contain more evidence from the killings.

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.

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.

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