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Four slayings in three states: Where’s the suspect?

May 14, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ Last month, Andrew Cunanan said he was leaving San Diego to take care of some business in Minneapolis. Now, a former lover and three other men are dead in his wake, friends are in hiding and Cunanan seems to be a step ahead in a nationwide hunt.

As police try to piece together evidence in three states, photos and a description of the darkly handsome Cunanan (pronounced koo-NAH-nin) are plastered on the FBI’s World Wide Web page and in gay nightspots in New York City.

The pictures suggest a clean-cut, happy 27-year-old, but authorities say he’s a desperate fugitive who killed a cemetery caretaker in New Jersey on Friday to steal his red pickup truck. They fear he may be trying to disappear in New York or another big city.

``One of my big concerns is that some guy out on a highway or a city street pulls him over for a traffic violation ... and we end up with some officer killed or badly wounded because this guy’s so dangerous,″ said Minneapolis homicide Lt. Dale Barsness.

The cross-country drama began April 29, when police discovered a bludgeoned body rolled in a carpet in the apartment of Minneapolis architect David Madson.

The dead man was Jeffrey Trail, a district manager for a Minneapolis gas company who knew Madson and was a friend of Cunanan before Trail moved last year from California to the Midwest.

Four days after Trail’s body was discovered, Madson’s body was found on the edge of a lake in Chisago County, north of Minneapolis. He had been shot three times.

Police, relatives and friends of Madson say that Madson and Cunanan were once lovers but that Madson had ended the relationship because he considered Cunanan ``shady.″ Investigators say Cunanan told friends in San Diego several weeks ago that he was going to Minnesota to ``take care of some business″ with Trail and contact Madson.

Minnesota authorities have charged Cunanan with murder in Madson’s killing; prosecutor Jim Reuter says authorities believe Madson was killed because he witnessed Trail’s murder. Cunanan has not been charged in that crime.

While Minneapolis investigators were dealing with the killings, Barsness heard news reports about the killing of Lee Miglin, a millionaire real estate developer whose stabbed and slashed body was found May 4 in the garage next to his townhouse in Chicago’s posh Gold Coast neighborhood.

``I remember thinking to myself, `I’m glad we don’t have that one,‴ Barsness said.

The next morning, police discovered Madson’s red Jeep Cherokee parked near Miglin’s home. Miglin’s green 1994 Lexus was missing.

Chicago police won’t discuss details of Miglin’s death or say whether they have a suspect, but authorities in Minnesota and California have said Cunanan is under suspicion.

It’s unclear whether Cunanan had any connection to Miglin. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Cunanan knew Miglin’s son, Duke, but the Miglin family has repeatedly denied any link between the men.

Acquaintances of Cunanan describe him as a ``party boy″ known in San Diego’s gay community for having lots of money but working only as a part-time drug store clerk.

``I think a lot of people hung around with him just because he had money. ... He had a very distinct, loud laugh, and you definitely knew when he was in a restaurant,″ said a San Diego business owner who knows Cunanan. He spoke on the condition of anonymity; like some other Cunanan acquaintances, he said he now fears for his life.

Police and acquaintances say the sometimes bespectacled Cunanan may have been supported by older, wealthy men. They won’t provide details, but the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cunanan’s mother, Mary Ann Cunanan, believes her son was a ``high-class homosexual prostitute.″

However, Cunanan has no criminal record. And it was unclear when he last saw his mother.

Last week, a signal from the cellular phone in Miglin’s car was picked up near Philadelphia. On Friday night, the car was discovered at Finn’s Point National Cemetery in Pennsville, N.J. Nearby was the body of caretaker William Reese, 45. He had been shot to death.

As the search _ and publicity about it _ widen, investigators are sifting through reported sightings of Cunanan all over the country, most recently in Scranton, Pa.

Friends and acquaintances of Cunanan on the East and West coasts are worried about where he will show up next, and several have gone into hiding, police said.

Questions about Cunanan’s role in the killings and any possible motive aren’t likely to be answered until he is captured, Barsness said _ ``if we’re lucky to get him alive.″

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