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Cunanan May Be Disguised as Woman, Police Say

From Times Staff and Wire Services

Andrew Cunanan, the chameleon-like suspect in the killing of designer Gianni Versace and four other men, may be eluding authorities by masquerading as a woman, authorities said Saturday.

“Investigators are exploring the possibility that Andrew Cunanan may be dressing as a female,” police spokesman Al Boza said in a release. “He may have shaved all of his body hair to enhance this appearance.”

During the last week, authorities searched an aging pink hotel looking for evidence that Cunanan stayed there for up to two months. They found hair-cutting equipment, hair dye and magazines, hotel staff said.

Sightings of people who resemble the most wanted man in America came in from across the nation Saturday, but with none of them confirmed, police said they think Cunanan may still be in South Florida.

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Perhaps the most intriguing sighting of someone who may have been the 27-year-old Cunanan came from a doorman at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, who said that a man in a striped polo shirt asked directions Friday to an address on a driver’s license he held while attempting to cover the name with his thumb. In addition to acting suspiciously, “he looked enough like him to call police,” said the doorman, who identified himself to reporters only as Dan.

Police were hoping to learn more from a surveillance videotape provided by the beachfront Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel, about 20 miles north of Versace’s home in the heart of the Art Deco district called South Beach.

But that was only one of scores of calls coming into a special FBI task force coordinating a nationwide manhunt for Cunanan. As photos of the suspect continued to get wide circulation via fliers, television and the Internet, police also checked out reports of Cunanan look-alikes in cities such as Detroit and Baltimore.

What seems increasingly clear, however, is that Cunanan spent up to two months living quietly and incognito in a north Miami Beach neighborhood before Tuesday’s slaying of Versace. FBI agents continued to comb through at least three rooms in the Normandy Plaza Hotel, where Cunanan may have stayed.

“He didn’t look like a killer,” said Vivian Oliva, a clerk at a pawnshop where Cunanan allegedly sold a coin stolen from one of the victims. “Other guys you could be scared of. But this guy looked like a nerd.”

In Miami, meanwhile, police made an arrest in the death of a Cuban-born physician who was found strangled in the bedroom of his home less than 48 hours after Versace was gunned down, ending speculation that Cunanan was involved. Charged with murder and armed robbery in the death of Silvio Alfonso was 28-year-old Yosvany Hernandez.

In a statement announcing the arrest, Metro-Dade County police made a point of emphasizing that “every killing in Miami is not the work of Andrew Cunanan.”


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