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In fact, Cunanan came close to being captured just four days before Versace's murder. A sandwich-shop employee, G. Kenneth Brown, told TIME he had recognized a man ordering a tuna sub as Cunanan. Brown took the order back to the kitchen and sneaked to a telephone to dial 911. Police were dispatched, but while Brown was still on the phone, a co-worker took the customer's money ($4.12, including three silver dollars) and unwittingly let him walk out the door. When a Miami Beach police cruiser arrived five minutes later, the suspect was gone. When Brown later learned that Cunanan was a suspect in Versace's murder, he said, "I wanted to throw up. I was thinking, If only they had caught him, Versace would still be alive."
It was the Normandy Plaza Hotel, just a block down the road, where Cunanan apparently checked in on May 12 and holed up for two months before the murder. According to the hotel's owner, James Falin, investigators later seized a pair of electric clippers and some fashion magazines from Cunanan's $39-a-night efficiency. Though law-enforcement officials won't confirm that Cunanan stayed there, Falin is convinced Cunanan is the man who checked into Room 205 two months ago, changed rooms three times and left a day or two before the Versace murder, still owing a night's rent.
Some experts on murder say the term serial killer, which usually describes someone who returns to a normal routine between bursts of rage, doesn't quite fit Andrew Cunanan. They've been rolling out "spree killer." It's more appropriate for somebody on a full-time lethal tear, acting sometimes with sadistic fury, sometimes with a quick and cold-blooded bullet to the head. A theory gaining currency in the FBI is that Cunanan has been carrying out a crazed vendetta, aiming to settle scores with people he knew, that he has moved purposefully on a cross-country trek toward his lethal assignations.
That odyssey began in San Diego, where Cunanan spent most of his life. Cunanan had told friends that David Madson, 33, a Minneapolis, Minn., architect, was "the love of my life." But Cunanan may have thought Madson, who had grown suspicious of him, was involved with one of Cunanan's best friends, Jeffrey Trail, 28, a former San Diego Navy officer. In November Trail moved to Minnesota to take a job with a propane-gas company.
Around this time Cunanan may have learned he was HIV positive. A San Diego AIDS counselor, Mike Dudley, told TIME that Cunanan approached him about six months ago and asked several questions about AIDS. According to Dudley, Cunanan blurted, "If I find out who did this to me, I'm gonna get them!" Cunanan told friends he would be moving to San Francisco. But first, he said, he had some business to do in Minneapolis. On April 29, Trail's body was found in Madson's apartment. He had been beaten to death with 25 to 30 furious blows from a claw hammer. Four days later, police found Madson's body dumped near a lake about 50 miles north of Minneapolis. He had been shot several times in the head and back with Golden Saber .40-cal. bullets.