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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Eighteen years ago, famed Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was gunned down outside his South Beach mansion in a murder that stunned South Florida–and the rest of the world.
It was 1997. The designer, 50, had just unlocked the gate of his home after having breakfast at News Café on Ocean Drive when a man in his mid-twenties, serial killer Andrew Cunanan, pulled a gun and shot him twice in the back of the head.
International media swarmed into South Beach to cover the sensational slaying which took place outside Casa Casuarina, his elaborate and opulent 10-bedroom Ocean Drive mansion.
Versace’s blood stained the coral front steps of the property after the shooting. The world famous, part-time resident lived in the home for five years before his murder.
The manhunt for Cunanan, once a male prostitute, made international headlines in the days that followed.
He was suspected in the murders of four other men and was already on the federal ten most wanted list at the time he shot and killed Versace.
A little more than a week after Versace’s murder, Cunanan killed himself on a shuttered houseboat about 40 blocks north of the mansion as police closed in.
More than a decade and a half later, investigators still don’t know why Cunanan murdered Versace or his other victims in the deadly crime spree that spread from Minneapolis to Chicago to South Beach.
At Versace’s funeral in Milan Italy a week after his death, celebrity mourners included Elton John, Georgio Armani and Princess Diana; one month before her own death in Paris.