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Sunday, May 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Nation/World

Cunanan’s Boasts Trigger Fbi Alert Celebrities Named By Suspect Warned Of Possible Hit List

By Associated Press

Andrew Cunanan was a name-dropper who bragged of knowing Gianni Versace and other celebrities. On Monday, the FBI said it is alerting some of those figures that their lives might be in danger, too.

“We are trying to alert people that their name has come up,” said FBI spokeswoman Coleen Rowley, adding the bureau would be remiss if it didn’t.

She wouldn’t identify any prominent people the FBI has contacted, and downplayed reports that investigators believe the 27-year-old reputed gigolo has a hit list of people who have crossed him.

The FBI alert came as investigators said they have one of their strongest links yet in the series of cross-country slayings blamed on Cunanan.

A law enforcement source said the gun used to kill designer Gianni Versace “definitely” is the same gun that Cunanan allegedly used in at least two other murders, The Miami Herald reported today.

The bullets that killed architect David Madson in Minnesota and gravedigger William Reese in New Jersey came from the same .40-caliber handgun used to kill Versace on his South Beach doorstep, the newspaper reported.

The two other killings in which Cunanan is suspected - one in Minnesota and the other in Chicago - were committed with a claw hammer and a gardening tool.

Meanwhile, two New York firms that provide guards and security advice to celebrities have warned their high-profile clients to take precautions until Cunanan is caught. Unitel and J.T. Mullen Co. issued a joint advisory to 47 clients soon after the Versace slaying.

Unitel’s clients include designer Tommy Hilfiger and actor Harvey Keitel.

Mullen refused to disclose any of its clients, but previously has acknowledged working for Donald Trump and Diane Sawyer.

In an upcoming article in Vanity Fair magazine, journalist Maureen Orth said Cunanan often tried to portray himself as a rich jet-setter, bragging that he knew Versace well, that his father was an Israeli millionaire and that his mother once spent time at a spa with Blondie singer Deborah Harry.

Investigators said they don’t have any reason to believe Cunanan, suspected of gunning down the fashion designer outside his oceanfront mansion July 15, will strike at anyone in particular.

But they want to be cautious, because no one knows his whereabouts.

Cunanan has been charged with killing a man in Illinois, New Jersey and Minnesota, and is a prime suspect in the killing of a second Minnesota man.

Authorities have said they believe Cunanan, who could be posing as a woman, is still in South Florida. The manhunt, however, is national.

At one point, Cunanan pawned a gold coin stolen from one of the men he is accused of killing. Miami Beach police wouldn’t answer questions Monday about whether the coin was an important clue that could have alerted them to Cunanan’s presence at least a week before the Versace slaying.

The pawn shop, Cash On The Beach, has records indicating he used his real name, left a thumbprint, and also left a record of the hotel and room number where he stayed until the day before Versace’s slaying.

Clerk Vivian Oliva said she followed Florida law requiring her to mail a copy of the receipt and his thumbprint to Miami Beach police within 24 hours. But she didn’t talk to police until after the slaying.

A news release from police Monday said officers manually enter data received from pawn shops. “For that reason, there is often a time gap between the arrival of that data from the pawn shops and entry of the information,” the release said. Police declined to offer any details.

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