July 17, 1997 in Nation/World

Versace Suspect Eludes Dragnet Amid False Tips, Designer’s Slaying In Spotlight

Knight-Ridder
 

In the glare of worldwide attention, scores of FBI agents and Miami Beach police Wednesday sifted through evidence and fielded thousands of phone tips on the instantly notorious murder of famed designer Gianni Versace.

But they had little to say on the most tantalizing questions of the day: Where is the accused serial killer who is suspected in the shooting? And why Versace?

Law enforcement authorities said they were concentrating the energies of a task force of federal, state and local police officers on the search for their only suspect - Andrew Cunanan, who they suspect shot Versace twice in the back of the head Tuesday morning on the steps of his ornate Ocean Drive mansion.

They appeared to be no closer to getting their man, however. A reported sighting of Cunanan two weeks ago in West Palm Beach, which fed speculation that the suspected killer had been in South Florida for some time, turned out to be bogus, the city’s police department said Wednesday.

But investigators are still operating under the assumption that Cunanan remains in South Florida. Police officers brought in four or five men for questioning who resemble Cunanan, but released them when fingerprints showed none was the right man.

“We are working very hard to find Cunanan,” said Jim Chambliss, chief investigator for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.


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