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Controversy arises over whether caretaker will get reward

July 25, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ The caretaker whose call alerted police that Andrew Cunanan was on the houseboat where he ended his life might not get any share of the $65,000 reward for Cunanan’s capture, police say. Counters his lawyer: not so fast.

``It’s not my understanding that the caretaker specifically knew it was Cunanan,″ Miami Beach police chief Richard Barreto told the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale for today’s editions, adding Fernando Carreira’s call was not so much a tip as ``happenstance.″

Barreto said he would consult on the question with other officials. Rewards offered by various agencies total $65,000,

``Nothing has been decided,″ FBI spokeswoman Julie Miller said of the $10,000 the agency offered for tips leading to Cunanan’s capture.

Attorney David Aelion, representing Carreira, said today that a petition was being circulated requesting that Carreira be given the reward, and a vigil would be held outside Gianni Versace’s Miami Beach mansion to publicize the petition drive.

He declined to say who started the petition. Carreira’s attorneys planned a news conference this afternoon.

Versace, a multimillionaire fashion designer, was shot to death outside his mansion July 15. Cunanan, who is believed to have killed Versace and four other men in a multistate crime spree, killed himself aboard a houseboat about 2 1/2 miles from the mansion on Wednesday. His body was positively identified on Thursday.

Carreira, 71, told authorities he was making a routine check on the vacant houseboat Wednesday afternoon when he realized someone had moved in, because the lights were on and he saw someone’s slippers. He thought it was just a transient; then he heard a gunshot as he was turning to leave and notify the police.

``I thought it was some bum; I didn’t know who it was,″ Carreira said in an interview Thursday with WSVN-TV.

``I heard a boom and ran like hell. I thought the shot was for me,″ he said.

Police believe the gunshot that Carreira heard was Cunanan killing himself on the second floor of the boat. Carreira couldn’t get through to police on his cellular phone so he had his son call to report the break-in.

Carreira said he usually stopped by the two-story home two to three times a week and saw nothing unusual when he had previously checked the house Saturday. A security system was disconnected for some time.

The owner of the houseboat, German businessman Thorsten Reineck, rarely came around, Carreira said, and Carreira was the only one with the keys.

Carreira was questioned by police until early Thursday and still wasn’t aware Cunanan had killed himself in the home.

``The cops said to go home and `you’ll be impressed when you watch the news tomorrow morning,‴ said family friend Reynaldo Ramirez.

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