Local News

FBI Got Tips on Cunanan Sightings in NC

Posted July 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It was as if he was everywhere and nowhere at all. Within a matter of hours Tuesday there were two heavily publicized sightings of Andrew Cunanan, first in New Hampshire and later in North Carolina.

FBI agents were sent to a sports store in Lebanon, New Hampshire to follow up. A clerk there said a man fitting Cunanan's description bought an item with cash, then took off in a gray Mercedes with Florida plates.

Later, an anonymous caller from Greensboro, NC told police his wife saw Cunanan at a Wal-Mart late Tuesday night. The man drove off in a reddish-orange sports car -- again, with a Florida license plate.

Neither lead panned out.

The FBI fielded tips from all over the country. Agents said they couldn't have ruled out any possibilities, because they knew Cunanan had to be somewhere.

That had the gay community on edge.

Most of the people WRAL talked to never thought Andrew Cunanan was in North Carolina, but most were curious about his whereabouts. Never had there been such a high profile case involving a gay serial killer. Members of the Triangle's gay community were concerned and wanted to do what they could to help police catch the suspect.

Drew Rapp is the editor of Front Page, a bi-weekly gay newspaper in Raleigh. He says the nationwide hunt made waves here, but not because people were scared.

Michael Penny owns a gay nightclub in Durham called Boxer's. He's hosting a large AIDS fundraiser Friday night. For a while, he said there was a little fear that Cunanan might have shown up. Penny says it's rare for violence to come from within the gay community.

Until Cunanan was caught, said Rapp, people in the Triangle stayed alert.

Meanwhile, people in San Francisco were especially nervous. Saturday, the city will host the biggest gay pride event of the year -- the Annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade.

Many worried that Cunanan might return to his hometown for the big event. Parade organizers said there was never any doubt the event would go on as planned.

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the parade.

Photographer:Joe Frieda