Andrew Cunanan is already wanted in connection for the murder of his gay lover and three other men--a series of killings that have spanned Minnesota, New Jersey and Illinois. The elusive Cunanan has been the subject of a FBI manhunt since April--and agents in the Miami Beach area have been trailing him there for the past two weeks.
Cunanan would seem to match the official description of Versace's assassin: While, male, mid-20s, average height. Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Baretto said he had no idea of any prior connection between Cunanan and Versace.
Versace was gunned down in the back of the head at about 8:45 a.m. ET this morning, as the 50-year-old fashion giant opened the gate of his exclusive Miami Beach mansion.
The bloody slaying marked a decidely unglamorous end for Versace, the man who dressed Princess Diana, Madonna, Ivana Trump and other denizens of the champagne-sipping glitterati.
News of his killing horrified the delicate fashion world. Princess Di said she was "devastated." Supermodel Kate Moss declared herself "at a complete loss for words." Rival designer Giorgio Armani termed his reaction "one of profound grief." Fellow Miami resident Sylvester Stallone offered the opinion that Versace would "never be duplicated."
The Italian-born fashion maven--rivaled only by countryman Armani in the hearts, minds and closets of Hollywood's most glamorous stars and New York's most fashion-conscious supermodels--launched his eponymous line in 1978. He came into his own in the 1980s. Considered a pioneer of the fashion show, he transformed the bare, spare catwalk into a multimedia event with rock music and sweeping flood lights.
His handiwork could be seen at this year's Oscars ceremony on the backs of newly glammed-up Courtney Love and Jada Pinkett. Versace also had designs on the likes of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Madonna. (Carlos Leon, father to Madonna's baby daughter, is a former model for the designer.)
Said Versace in an interview last year with NBC: "We designers help people to be glamorous, happy and alive."
(UPDATED 5:20 p.m.)