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American Crime Story did extremely well at the Emmy's this year, season one of the anthology series winning a grand total of nine awards. Focusing on the world-famous trial of O.J. Simpson, it made people reexamine the case and the players involved, showing that despite the intense media attention it had at the time, there were still new angles regarding the O.J. saga to be found. Watch the trailer for season one below:

It was so popular it was renewed for a second season, focusing on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now fans will also be happy to know that it has now been renewed for a third season and will centre around the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace, designer of the worldwide fashion brand. Much as the O.J. Simpson storyline was based on the non-fiction book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson, this storyline will be based on Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth. But why was Gianni Versace killed? Find out with our true story behind American Crime Story Season 3.

The Shooting

The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime

It was just another day in Florida for fashion icon Gianni Versace. Having started the fashion brand all by himself, and cleverly linking it with those in the music world, he had both immense wealth and fame. He lived with his partner Antonio D'Amico in a huge mansion on Ocean Drive in Miami. Normally his assistant would pick up his papers, but on 5th July 1997 Versace decided to do it by himself. It was on the way back from the coffee shop that Andrew Cunanan ambushed and shot him twice in the head with a .40-caliber pistol. He was killed immediately.

But Versace wasn't the only victim; he was merely the last in a five person spree.

The Portrait Of A Serial Killer

Born in California in 1969, Italian-American Andrew Cunanan was known as a preternaturally bright kid, with an I.Q. of 147. Yet he soon gained a reputation for being prone to wild confabulations about his personal and family life. He would also seem to change his appearance at will, something that would serve him well when evading police. At the age of 19, his father ran away in order to avoid the police for committing fraud. In the same year his mother found out he was a homosexual; they had an argument; he threw her against a wall and broke her shoulder.

After graduating from university he became a regular at gay bars where he would sell his body for sex and deal drugs. He was described as someone who coveted the high-life, and being a gigolo was an easy shortcut to make that happen. One day, for reasons that no one quite understood, he began a shooting spree that would end three months later with Versace's death. His victims included:

  • Old friend Jeffrey Trail in Minneapolis. Bludgeoned by a hammer
  • Architect David Madson, shot in the head. Also in Minneapolis.
  • 72 year old Lee Miglin in Chicago. He was found with four stab wounds and a throat opened by a garden saw. After this Cunanan was put on the FBI top 10 most wanted list.
  • William Reese in New Jersey. He was murdered for his truck.

Remarkably, Cunanan managed to hide in plain sight in and around Miami Beach, frequenting gay clubs, whilst the manhunt raged on for him. One of his favourites was Twist, only a few blocks from Versace's mansion.

What Was The Motive?

The Houseboat where he shot himself
The Houseboat where he shot himself

Police didn't have time to ask him why he did it. He was found dead eight days later in a Miami Houseboat, having shot himself in the head. He left no note.

Ultimately we will never know, although many have tried to fill in the gaps. Much speculation was made that because just both men were gay, that Cunanan had reason to murder the "gay icon". Rumors also went around that because Cunanan had AIDS that he felt resentment towards the world and wanted to work through it with some grisly murders. This AIDS claim was false. He was found to be thousands of dollars in debt, but again there is a large difference between stealing and sadistic murder.

When Gregg McCrary, senior consultant of the Threat Assessment Group at the F.B.I, was asked to give some insight into the murders, he thought that it was due to a sadistic impulse that only came into being once he felt his life was slipping out of control:

"When he realizes that in spite of his best efforts he is not getting what he wants... Homicide is an attempt to regain control over the situation"

Yet precise reasons will be hard to pin down. The Miami police chief at that time, Richard Barreto, agrees:

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The Funeral was attended by Princess Diana and Elton John
The Funeral was attended by Princess Diana and Elton John

Naturally, after the death of Gianni, the vital question of who would take over the family business soon gained precedence in the Versace household. With a valuation of just under half a billion dollars, the Versace brand was one that needed to be handled correctly. After much wrangling, his brother Santo was made CEO whilst his sister Donatella became head of design. Therefore, after depicting the lavish funeral back in Italy for the deceased man, one imagines this FX drama will have plenty of material to explore with regards to the family dynamic. As for creating a motive for the notorious serial killer, Ryan Murphy sure has a lot of work on his hands.


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