Has Versace's killer struck again?

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The Independent Online
Was it the work of the gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan? Or just another Miami murder?

Less than 48 hours after the murder of the Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, Miami police rushed to a northern suburb yesterday after an alarm went off in a middle-class home. They found a 44-year-old man, described as a Cuban-American doctor, dead in a ransacked bedroom.

Neighbours said that they saw a man roughly resembling Andrew Cunanan, who is wanted in the Versace killing, running from the house. The only problem, police sources said, was that hundreds of people had been reporting Cunanan sightings throughout Florida since wanted posters of the suspect were issued after the designer's killing. The new witness reports, the sources said, may have been the result of over-reaction to wanted posters beamed on local television. Police did not reveal any details of how the latest murder victim died.

The neighbours spoke of a white man in his late 20s or early 30s, with dark hair and a slim build, running from the white stone, red-tile roofed home in Miami Springs early yesterday, just before police answered the residential security alarm at 6am. Eyewitness descriptions of the young man who shot Versace dead outside his beachfront mansion on Tuesday had spoken of a white man in his mid- twenties with dark hair.

"The descriptions bore a resemblance to Cunanan. That's not necessarily a red flag. His description could bear a resemblance to a lot of people," a police spokesman said. "In no way, shape or form have we made any connection between this and the Versace murder, but we called in the FBI just in case. We'd call them in for any homicide that might have the remotest possibility of being connected to the Versace case."

Versace, 50, was shot dead as he opened the gates of his exposed oceanfront mansion in broad daylight on Tuesday morning. FBI officials said later that they suspected Cunanan - a 27-year-old Californian homosexual who was already wanted for four murders since April - of the killing.

Before the latest killing was known, police and FBI agents were fanning out throughout Miami and the rest of Florida in a hunt for Cunanan, whom they feared was on a revenge rampage against homosexual celebrities because he had been diagnosed as HIV-positive. Police sources said they believed that Cunanan was still in the Miami area, possibly protected by a homosexual friend.

Donatella Versace and her brother Santo said yesterday that they remained committed to the family business. "It must be remembered that Gianni Versace stood for the future and so of course we stand dedicated to the future of our company," they said in a statement released from Miami.

"We would like the world to be assured that the indomitable spirit, the amazing vitality and the faith in creativity that makes Gianni Versace so important to everyone is something that we are completely committed to and most capable of continuing, as he would have wanted us to."