Mystery deepens after fatal siege

"All across the nation, our citizens can stand down and breathe a sigh of relief," was the verdict of Miami Beach police chief Richard Baretto. "The reign of terror brought upon us by Andrew Cunanan is over."

Cunanan, the suspected gay serial killer thought to have murdered the fashion designer, Gianni Versace, was found dead from a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted, after a police assault on a houseboat on Miami Beach.

Mr Baretto said at a dawn press conference yesterday that Cunanan, a 27-year-old Californian described as a high-flying homosexual prostitute, had been identified from a thumbprint which matched one he gave when he pawned a gold coin here before Versace's murder last week. He apparently panicked after a caretaker spotted him on board the houseboat on Indian Creek, alongside Miami Beach's busy Collins Avenue.

Police removed his body early yesterday and said a .40 calibre pistol, similar to the one that killed Versace and two of Cunanan's other alleged victims, had been found near his head.

It appeared Cunanan, America's most wanted man since the Versace killing, was already dead when a Florida police Swat team and FBI agents surrounded the houseboat, across Collins Avenue from the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday afternoon. The caretaker reported hearing a gunshot and seeing an intruder, matching Cunanan's description, on board the two-storey floating home, which was supposed to be unoccupied.

After a four-hour siege and a barrage of tear gas, the Swat team moved in, just after 8pm. Initially, they said they found no-one inside. Then, after a second search, they announced at 10pm they had found a body. Only at 5am yesterday, more than 12 hours after the drama began, did Mr Baretto confirm it was Cunanan and that he appeared to have shot himself through the head.

Many people expressed scepticism at the police version, questioning how they could have missed the body on an initial search of a relatively small area.

Some speculated police may have killed the man suspected of the murder of Versace and four other men, but reporters at the scene heard no shots during the assault, other than the tear gas grenades. Police said they fired no shots.

The sceptics noted that Cunanan reportedly left no suicide note, despite the fact that he was known to have kept newspaper cuttings on his crimes and appeared to have basked in the publicity surrounding his alleged murders.

The police and FBI agents never looked totally tense during the "siege," suggesting they either thought no-one was on the boat or that whoever was on board was already dead. Several officers strolled around without cover within what would have been easy firing range of the boat.

Whatever the case, the bizarre ending to Cunanan's alleged three-month killing spree was likely to renew speculation that Cunanan was not working alone when he killed Versace. Those who believed that theory had predicted Cunanan would never be brought in alive. "Now we'll never know what really happened, why he did this," said Stanley Trail, father of one of Cunanan's alleged earlier victims, Jeffrey Trail.

Police said the houseboat, berthed around two miles north of the beach- front mansion where Versace was shot, apparently belonged to Thorsten Reineck, a 49-year-old German wanted in his own country for tax fraud. Some reports said Cunanan may have known Mr Reineck, who reportedly owns a gay health spa in Las Vegas. One report said that Mr Reineck had fled Miami after hearing Cunanan was in the area.

Suggested Topics
News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?