Versace's ashes returned to Italy

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The Independent Online
The ashes of murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace were returned to Italy yesterday, ahead of a private family funeral near the peaceful home on Lake Como he loved so much.

Reporters at Versace's residence in the lakeside village of Moltrasio saw two black limousines carrying Versace's sister, Donatella, and brother, Santo, sweep through the gates and disappear down the drive soon after they arrived from Miami.

A private plane carrying the family and an urn containing the ashes, landed in the nearby town of Bergamo, to avoid crowds of waiting media in Milan.

A helicopter then whisked them to Como, where the jet-setting designer had an 18th century neo-classical villa he used as a retreat.

His family was expected to hold a service during the weekend near the three-storey villa.

Reporters saw two private security guards at the village cemetery, where the family had expressed a wish for Versace to be laid to rest, and the chapel was being cleaned.

A memorial mass was planned in the enormous Roman Catholic cathedral in Milan, Italy's fashion capital, early next week.

Police were still trying to track down Andrew Cunanan, a 27-year-old homosexual prostitute and alleged serial killer whom they describe as their only suspect in Versace's murder.