MIAMI — On the afternoon of July 7, 1997, a young man wearing a slanted baseball cap over his unshaven face walked into a Miami Beach pawnshop. He was strapped for cash.
At the counter was Vivian Oliva, a no-nonsense mother of two who worked days at her brother's business. "I'll give you $190 for it," she told him after seeing his 22-carat gold coin.
Oliva asked for identification; the man produced his U.S. passport and said he was staying at the nearby Normandy Plaza hotel. He took his money and left.
What Oliva and the rest of South Florida didn't know then was that the man pawning the coin was Andrew Cunanan, 27, a gay gigolo who had been in town for weeks plotting the fifth and final chapter of a murderous cross-country odyssey - the death of fashion designer Gianni Versace, South Beach's most famous resident.
For the next nine days, the eyes of the world would picture South Beach not just as a chic playground but also a city under 24-hour siege, in the grips of a spree killer. Miami Beach would be forever linked to one of America's most notorious crimes.
The youngest of four children of an upper-middle-class Filipino stockbroker and his Italian-American wife, Andrew Phillip Cunanan had grown up in San Diego and seemed an unlikely mass killer.
Cunanan's parents, at their son's insistence, sacrificed to send him to the private, preppy and prestigious The Bishop's School in La Jolla, Calif. The teen became well-known for two traits, friends later told the FBI: He was flamboyantly gay and a pathological liar, endlessly manicuring his background.
After graduation, he used his exotic good looks to attract older, wealthy men who provided him a life of leisure and partying, complete with drugs and affairs.
One love interest was David Madson, 33, an architect from Minneapolis. Coincidentally, another friend, Jeffrey Trail, 28, just out of the Navy, had moved to the same city.
During a visit to Minneapolis in late April 1997, Cunanan came to suspect that Trail had turned Madson against him. Cunanan snapped and suddenly turned violent. He crushed Trail's head with a claw hammer, authorities said.
Days later, Madson's body was found in a field. He had apparently witnessed Trail's murder and been killed for it.
It's unclear why Cunanan became so violent. Criminologists who studied his rampage concluded he was a spree killer - someone driven to kill by an emotional blow, usually in a sudden spurt of violence. His perceived rejection by Madson and Trail, they say, likely triggered the killings.
With two victims dead, Cunanan was now on the run in Madson's Jeep - killing for convenience and with ease.
His third victim was Lee Miglin, 72, a wealthy Chicago developer. Cunanan tortured Miglin on May 3 and took off with his Lexus and the gold coin he later pawned in Miami Beach. The fourth victim was William Reese, 45, a New Jersey cemetery caretaker, whose red pickup Cunanan commandeered.
Cunanan rolled into Miami Beach sometime in mid-May and hardly went into hiding. He frequented local gay bars, auditioned to appear in gay porn and hustled for cash. He became a regular at a Miami Subs near the $36-a-night Normandy Plaza hotel. His alias: Andrew DeSilva.
By the day of Versace's murder, Cunanan had skipped out on his hotel and was living out of the stolen pickup truck, which he kept at a city parking lot just two blocks from Casa Casuarina, Versace's palatial beachfront home.
Versace, 50, had just returned to Miami Beach - and Cunanan had been waiting, police later determined.
On July 15, Gianni Versace awoke early. Dressed in gray sweat pants and a black T-shirt, he walked two blocks south to the News Cafe. He ordered a cup of coffee and purchased five magazines. It was sunny, about 8:30 a.m., and few people were on the street.
Versace, the man who helped bring gaudy glitz and glamour to South Beach, strolled back home.
Cunanan, lurking in a park across the street, dashed toward Versace, who was fidgeting with keys to the 10-foot ornate wrought iron gate.
Cunanan moved behind him, right arm outstretched. He fired one shot near Versace's ear, execution-style. He fired a second shot into the fashion mogul's cheek.
Versace fell. Blood dripped down the rock steps, splattering over Versace's sunglasses and flip-flops - an image repeatedly broadcast and published the world over.
Cunanan calmly walked away.
In the chaos, one of Versace's friends gave chase but stopped when Cunanan pointed his .40 caliber Taurus. Cunanan vanished into one of Miami Beach's alleyways.
Rescue workers arrived and tried to keep Versace alive; they didn't know his spine had been severed.
Cunanan had planned to jump into his pickup and drive right out of the 13th Street garage. But the sound of a wailing police siren stopped him. Shaken and thinking he was about to be caught, Cunanan stripped off his blood-splattered T-shirt and bolted on foot.
It turned out the siren was that of a cop car investigating a nearby car accident.
Cunanan had made a mistake. The bloody shirt and truck left behind would help police learn his true identity and link him to Versace's murder. An eight-day manhunt would soon begin.
Miami Beach Detective Robert Hernandez, a public information officer at the time, was among the first to arrive at Versace's mansion.
"There was a patrol officer already there, but he had no idea who the victim was. When I saw him, I said: `Do you know who that is? That's Versace! This is going to be big.' I called the lead PIO at the time, Al Boza, and told him: `Get ready.'"
Indeed, reporters from newspapers, radio, television and the Internet quickly got wind of a sensational story.
Within hours, the news got juicier. Versace's killer had been identified as Cunanan, a spree killer who only weeks before had been listed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.
"It went from a whodunit to a he done it, but now, not only did we have a dead world famous designer, he had been killed by a serial killer who was on the loose," said then City Manager Jose Garcia-Pedrosa, now president and CEO of the National Parkinson Foundation in Miami.
"The story had everything: Violence, sex, suspense ... And there was a mystery, too. Why did Cunanan kill Versace?" Garcia-Pedrosa said.
A sense of panic filled South Florida. Catching Cunanan became an obsession for the FBI, Miami Beach and Miami-Dade Police, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Miami Beach was turned upside down.
Said then-Mayor Seymour Gelber: "The furor created by the Versace murder is something that had never happened on Miami Beach before - and I've lived here since 1946."
The job of finding Cunanan fell to veteran Miami Beach detectives Paul Scrimshaw and Gary Schiaffo.
They began chasing lead after lead - most dead ends. "There were more sightings of Cunanan than Elvis," said the Bronx-born Schiaffo. "Everybody was seeing the guy and we had to chase down every tip."
One bizarre theory was that Versace was killed by the Mafia. The reason: Next to Versace's body was a dead pigeon - a mob calling card.
Detectives decided the pigeon succumbed in a freak accident, killed by a bullet that exited Versace's skull.
A break came July 23, when Schiaffo heard a call on the police radio that caught his attention: "Shots fired in a houseboat on 52nd Street and Indian Creek."
Could it be Cunanan? Schiaffo had a feeling about this one.
"Days earlier, a guy who owned a yacht just three blocks away from the houseboat had reported that someone he thought was Cunanan had ransacked his yacht," Schiaffo recalled. "I jumped in my car and headed that way."
Schiaffo was the first detective at the houseboat for what would be a 12-hour siege.
Schiaffo learned a caretaker, Fernando Carreira, had come to the houseboat to check on it when he discovered the locks had been opened. He pushed his way in and saw that someone had been living there. Then a shot rang out.
Police decided to tear-gas the houseboat, but getting the smoke out took hours. The media were kept at bay and in the dark about the suspect's identity. The police wouldn't tell them what had happened for hours.
Schiaffo and a crime lab technician finally entered and found Cunanan dead on a bed upstairs, just 41 blocks from the Versace mansion. He had shot himself in the mouth, with the gun he used on his victims.
Schiaffo believes Cunanan killed himself because he thought the caretaker was the police.
"I think he thought: This is it. I'll take care of myself or they're gonna riddle my body. The FBI profile said he was very vain and would have preferred to kill himself," Schiaffo said.
In the days after Cunanan's houseboat suicide, the media continued pummeling Miami Beach police.
The barrage intensified when it was learned that Oliva had - as required by law - sent Miami Beach police the paperwork of the transaction with Cunanan. It sat on a desk unnoticed, rich in leads to Versace's killer.
Today, Schiaffo is retired from the force and works as an insurance fraud investigator for the state.
Scrimshaw saw his career and his relationship with the department sour. He retired five months after the murder. He died of cancer last year at age 60.
His widow, Lynn Scrimshaw, says the case proved a curse for her husband.
"It cost my husband his whole life," she said. "He lost a job that he loved and did very well. The case changed him."
Oliva, 55 who no longer works at the pawnshop, said she still can't believe she came face-to-face with Cunanan.
"He was as sweet as a piece of cake," she said. "I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that the man who walked in that day was a killer."
In Italy, the city of Milan and the Versace family planned several events this week to mark the 10th anniversary of Versace's death.
Versace's sister, Donatella, who continues to run the fashion house, said in a statement that it is "an emotionally difficult time."
As for Versace's mansion at 11th and Ocean Drive, it is now a high-priced bed-and-breakfast - and the steps leading to it are a macabre mecca for tourists.