Same gun killed Versace, 2 others tied to Cunanan FBI tests confirm .40-caliber weapon in deaths in Minn., N.J.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Ballistics tests show that Italian designer Gianni Versace and two other alleged victims of Andrew Phillip Cunanan were killed by the same .40-caliber handgun, the FBI announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, the FBI said there is no evidence Cunanan ever visited Versace's South Beach mansion, debunking a report from a Brazilian woman claiming to have film of Cunanan from a party there July 13 -- the Sunday before the July 15 murder.

The FBI also said it believes that Cunanan, 27, spent time in New York City between May 5 and May 8, in the midst of his alleged four-state, five-victim killing spree.

Architect, cemetery worker

Coleen Rowley, an FBI spokeswoman, said the agency based that belief on items recovered and a couple of sightings, but she refused to elaborate.

The revelation about the ballistics tests was made by the FBI office in Minneapolis and came one week after Versace's murder on the steps of his mansion on Ocean Drive, where visitors still arrive daily to express their grief and shock.

Two bullets that struck Versace in the back of his head have been linked through ballistics tests to the murders of architect David J. Madson, 33, found dead in Minnesota on May 3, and cemetery caretaker William Reese, 45, found dead May 9 in New Jersey, Rowley said.

The U.S. attorney in Newark, N.J., had already said that a bullet shell casing and jacket found near Reese's body and shell casings and a jacket from the scene of Madson's killing were fired from the same weapon, which Miami Beach police originally said they had recovered but later refused to discuss.

Bullets found in gym bag

Those bullets were identified as Remington Golden Saber ammunition, a partially full box of which was recovered, along with a gun holster, from a nylon gym bag bearing Cunanan's name left behind in Madson's apartment.

Cunanan is also suspected in the murder of his friend Jeffrey Trail, 28, who was beaten to death with a claw hammer in late April in Minnesota, and for allegedly killing wealthy Chicago businessman Lee Miglin, 72, who was discovered murdered May 4 with a gardening tool in the garage of his brownstone home.

The FBI asked anyone with information about Cunanan to call 888-FBI-9800.

Meanwhile, in Milan, Italy, yesterday, more than 2,000 people packed a cathedral for the first public memorial to Versace in the fashion designer's native land. Mourners included Princess Diana, model Naomi Campbell and designers Giorgio Armani and Valentino.

Sting and Elton John performed a mournful rendition of Psalm 23, "The Lord Is My Shepherd."

And in Vancouver, British Columbia, local police said "an immigration source" put them on alert over the weekend that someone using the name Andrew Cunanan spent several months in Vancouver before leaving in September.

Janice Williams, a Vancouver police spokeswoman, said authorities have no idea why Cunanan may have gone there, where the person who used that name stayed or with whom he spent time.

"Because of Mr. Cunanan's background, the Vancouver police decided to take a look at any unsolved homicides in that time frame that he allegedly was up here, and we came up with nothing, meaning that there was nothing to link him to any of the unsolved murders," Williams said.

She said police in Vancouver would continue to check reports to see if Cunanan was involved in any traffic accidents or brushes with the law.

Pub Date: 7/23/97

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