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Cunanan had shaved head, grown beard by time of his suicide

July 26, 1997

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ As he tried to elude one of the nation’s biggest manhunts, Andrew Cunanan had apparently shaved his head and was growing a beard.

``It looked like he hadn’t shaved since (he shot Versace),″ a source in the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday on condition of anonymity. ``It looked like he shaved his head awhile ago and it was growing back.″

Cunanan, suspected in the deaths of fashion designer Gianni Versace and four other men in a cross-country killing spree, fatally shot himself in the mouth Wednesday aboard a houseboat.

Authorities would not comment on how Cunanan looked in his final hours but said after Versace’s death that he might be dressing as a woman and may have shaved his body hair.

Officials said the body would be tested for AIDS and an autopsy was performed Thursday but no results were released by Friday.

Florida law allows HIV test results to be given to the doctor, patient, insurance company, rescue workers and police contaminated by the person’s blood, state health officials and relatives. Others need a court order, but officials were debating whether the laws extend beyond death.

Also Friday, The Miami Herald received an unverified letter purporting to be Cunanan’s suicide note. The letter contains unfocused references to AIDS and the crimes allegedly committed by Cunanan.

Typewritten, or produced by a computer printer, the letter was not signed by hand. The envelope was labeled with block letters from a thick-tipped felt marker. The letter was dated July 27, 1997, but postmarked July 24, the day after Cunanan killed himself.

The Herald turned the letter over to police. Prosecutor Katherine Hernandez Rundle said the letter, though currently unsubstantiated, may be used next week in a motion to disclose the HIV results.

Meanwhile, authorities intrigued about the contents of a blue, 15-inch-wide, 18-inch-tall safe found near Cunanan’s body, were obtaining search warrants to get into it.

``We believe, legally, that we should have a separate search warrant to get into the safe,″ Rundle told the Herald. ``We might find evidence of other crimes, evidence that leads to other people.″

One of Cunanan’s final acts was to try to obtain a fake passport through ``an associate″ on the West Coast, the FBI said. A federal law enforcement source who asked not to be identified said Cunanan called someone in California seeking help. Cunanan, a gay gigolo, was from San Diego.

The agency questioned houseboat owner Torsten Franz Reineck, who also owns a gay bathhouse in Las Vegas, and said they have no reason to believe he harbored Cunanan before his death.

Reineck, 49, claims to be from an unrecognized nation called the Principality of Sealand, according to law enforcement sources. The Miami Herald reported Friday that Reineck claims to be a diplomat from Sealand, which issues its own passports. He drives a car bearing diplomatic plates from the make-believe principality, the paper said.

Reineck is wanted on a Europe-wide arrest warrant on fraud allegations involving up to $111,000, state prosecutor Norbert Roeger said in Leipzig, Germany.

Also Friday, the caretaker who heard a shot in the houseboat and alerted authorities filed a lawsuit, saying he deserves the $65,000 reward.

Fernando Carreira’s call was not so much a tip as ``happenstance,″ said Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto. But Paul Philip, the FBI’s agent in charge in Miami, said he thought Carreira should at least get his agency’s reward _ $10,000.

In the lawsuit, Carreira, 71, said he suspected it was Cunanan when he entered the houseboat and heard a gunshot. Thursday night, Carreira said he had no idea who fired the shot and never saw the gunman.

``They’ve told me that I wouldn’t get nothing because they said I didn’t know it was him,″ Carreira said. ``But I found him. I think it’s an injustice.″

Meanwhile, a federal law enforcement source confirmed what had been suspected, that the .40-caliber gun Cunanan used to kill himself was the same one used to kill Versace and two other men Cunanan is suspected of killing.

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