THE GRUESOME fixation on, and fear of, Andrew Cunanan is mercifully ended. He is no longer the Scarlet Pimpernel who may show up in fiendishly brilliant disguise anywhere. He has not misled pursuers with brilliantly scattered false clues. He is not -- or is no longer -- following a hit list of wealthy homosexual men who may have befriended or offended him. Neither is he any longer a menace to the random stranger, target of convenience, who might be in his way or possess a car he covets. All that is over.
This previously insignificant man who seized world attention by the throat went out on his own terms. For those who advocate a quick execution for the crimes of which he was accused, take note that he avoided imprisonment, humiliation, contrition, anxiety or other contemplation by inflicting his own.
The pattern of crime connected to this man fits the stereotype of the spree killer rather than the serial killer. The first two murders attributed to him, in Minnesota, appeared to be purposeful and motivated, with victims he knew well and may have held grievances against. The next two murders appeared to be strangers, victims of opportunity, where both the need and the possible thrill arose from the first murders. The last killing, of the fashion designer Gianni Versace, which shook the world, conforms uneasily with either category.
So Andrew Cunanan took to the grave any secrets of motivation, outside help, other crimes and his intentions for whatever future he contemplated. These are all things that law enforcement agencies need to know for prevention of similar occurrences, and a prurient public craves to know. They won't.
Cunanan is the stuff of legend, now. The commercial exploiters who will feed on him like jackals will make up whatever suits the spins on their stories. Maybe that's what he hoped to achieve, confident that they will play their part in his drama rather than he in theirs.
Law enforcement agencies gave high priority to catching this suspect after the Minnesota murders. Suspicions bruited in the homosexual community of lax investigation because his first victims were from that community have no basis. That said, federal and Florida agencies get no comfort knowing how long and easily and openly he lived in the Miami area while on the FBI's most wanted list -- taking no great precautions, leaving clues to his presence about.
The outcome brings widespread relief, not satisfaction.
Pub Date: 7/25/97