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The sadistic savagery of those crimes reverberated throughout America’s gay communities.

Two of Cunanan’s alleged victims, Jeffrey Trail, 28, and David Madson, 33, looked as if they had walked off a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box: from upright, loving, midwestern families, they were intelligent, handsome, and well liked.

Now the emperor lay dead, gunned down almost Mob-style on the steps of his lavish Mediterranean villa, shot in the head and face in broad daylight.

The prime suspect, dressed in nondescript shorts and a baseball cap, came in close for the kill and then coolly walked away along Ocean Drive.

Trail, Madson, and Miglin, however, carried the personal signature of what criminologists call a “pathological, sadistic sexual offender.”The killer’s trail ended on July 23, when a caretaker checking on an unoccupied houseboat anchored off Collins Avenue, less than three miles north of Versace’s mansion, discovered someone inside and heard a shot.

He immediately notified police, who moved in a swat team and lobbed tear gas into the houseboat.

The shocking Mob-style execution of fashion designer Gianni Versace appears to have been the crescendo of a cross-country murder spree that landed 27-year-old Andrew Cunanan on the F. In Miami’s pagan, over-the-top South Beach, particularly among the large gay contingent, Gianni Versace had been a tanned, adored idol.

From the truth about Cunanan’s childhood, through his free-spending days at the heart of San Diego’s gay society, to the bloody crime scenes he left behind in Minneapolis, Chicago, New Jersey, and Miami, the author follows the twisted psychological path that ended only when Cunanan turned the .40-caliber murder weapon on himself.

“I know you,” Versace said, wagging a finger in the then 21-year-old’s direction. ” And Cunanan replied, “Thank you for remembering, Signor Versace.” It is not clear that there really was anything to remember, or that Andrew Cunanan had ever been near Versace’s house on Lake Como.

With characteristic hyperbole, he embellished it for Gruen­wald, adding, “I said, ‘If you’re Gianni Versace, then I’m Coco Chanel!

’ ”Doug Stubblefield, a research analyst and close friend of Cunanan’s, recalls that during Versace’s visit he was walking on Market Street on his way to another gay dance club when a big white chauffeured car pulled up alongside him. Cunanan’s little buddies have been interviewed,” he told me, “and they say the two people he most admired in San Francisco are Mr. Harry de Wildt.”After Versace’s murder, the words of Chicago police captain Tom Cronin, a serial-killer expert I had interviewed, rang in my ears: “Down deep inside, the publicity is more sexual to him than anything else.

He knew very well that the act of murdering Versace, the Calabrian-born designer whose flamboyant clothes virtually defined “hot,” who tarted up the likes of Princess Diana and Elizabeth Hurley but whose gowns also made Madonna and Courtney Love more elegant, would instantly catapult him to where he had always fantasized being: at the center of worldwide attention.

Until recently, Andrew Cunanan, 27, was just a gay gigolo down on his luck in San Diego. Q., he coveted the lifestyles of the rich and famous.