Produced by Lisa Freed and Marcelena Spencer
Gianni Versace, the Italian fashion designer who dressed some of the most famous women in the world, including Princess Diana, was shot dead on the morning of July 15, 1997. The killer walked up, shot him twice execution style, and then walked off, leaving the 50-year-old bleeding to death on the steps to his Miami Beach, Fla., home.
“Versace helped put Miami on the international map. … he brought with him his entire world of fabulosity,” says Tara Solomon, former columnist for the Miami Herald. “When Versace was killed … There was pure pandemonium.”
The death also rocked the fashion world. “I remember it profoundly,” “Project Runway’s” Tim Gunn tells “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger. “I opened up my computer and it flashed before me that Gianni had been murdered. I was stunned.”
The investigation into what happened would uncover a killer who thrived on attention and was willing to kill friends. Was Versace’s death a targeted hit or simply a random killing? It would take just three hours for police to learn the name of the killer. Police across the country were already hunting for Andrew Cunanan for the murders of four others.
But what was Cunanan’s connection to Versace?
Five days before he was murdered, Gianni Versace and his partner, Antonio D”Amico had arrived at Casa Casuarina, their lavish Miami Beach retreat. They’d been in Paris and New York. Versace could not have known it, but his killer was already in town.
Operator: 911 emergency…
Caller: I’m at 1116 Ocean Drive. A man’s been shot. …Please, immediately please…
The 911 call came in around 8:45 a.m. on July 15, 1997, just as Carlos Noriega, then a lieutenant with the Miami Beach Police Department, was heading to work.
Carlos Noriega: I drove over to the…