MIAMI – Twenty-five 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.
A quarter of a century after that crime, tourists and residents are still flocking to the scene of the crime as we saw on this Friday.
Devin Carbaugh, a tourist from Los Angeles, used his cell phone to capture images at the site and he told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that “We are here for swim week. It feels kind of surreal right now. I actually googled it last night and said this is the 25th Anniversary and we have to go there. We are in the fashion industry and we need to come here and make an appearance.”
Andrea Bernholtz, another tourist, said “It is very sad. He was somebody who worked so hard and we know what the struggle is and to be taken down in such a vicious way. It’s very said. This is an iconic place and we were in Miami, we always make it a point to visit. This is especially special. We had to come here for the 25th anniversary of Gianni Versace, definitely.”
It was July 15th, 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, the 27-year-old Cunanan killed himself on a shuttered houseboat about 40 blocks north of the mansion as police closed in.
More than two decades 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.
Since the crime, the Versace mansion at 11th Street and Ocean Drive has been turned in to a boutique hotel and restaurant known as Villa Casa Casaurina.