Who Were Jeffrey Trail And David Madson, Andrew Cunanan's First Victims?

This week's 'American Crime Story' will tell the story of the two men who lost their lives at the hands of Versace's killer.

If you've been following American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, you've already witnessed murderer Andrew Cunanan's last three victims, chief among them the fashion mogul himself—who was killed on July 15, 1997—as well as real estate tycoon Lee Miglin and cemetery caretaker William Reese.

But Cunanan's killing spree actually began in April—four months before he shot Versace—with the murder of his two friends, Jeffrey Trail and David Madson. Their deaths left all of America wondering: What was Cunanan's motive? And why had he chosen them?

Here's everything we know about Trail and Madson.

Lieutenant Jeffrey Trail

Jeffrey Trail, Cunanan's first victim, was a 28-year-old former naval officer. He was handsome and intelligent—the product of a loving Midwestern upbringing—and Cunanan considered him a close friend. He even referred to Trail as "my brother."

The two met in San Diego where Cunanan was living prior to his killing spree, and the nature of their relationship—whether romantic or not—is still undetermined. Investigators, however, believe that the two were "romantically linked." They would reportedly go target-shooting together, Trail being a skilled marksman, and veteran of the Gulf War.

Trail's family denies any romantic involvement, and instead speculates that Cunanan had an odd obsession with Trail: ''When Jeff got a haircut, Andrew had to have the exact same haircut,'' one of Trail's sisters, Lisa, reported to the New York Times in the summer following the murders. ''When Jeff went to San Francisco and got a certain style of baseball cap, Andrew had to go to San Francisco and get the very same cap. When Jeff grew a goatee, Andrew grew a goatee.''

Jeffrey Trail's sister mourns his loss holding one of his jackets.

Trail moved from San Diego to Minneapolis for a job as a district manager at a propane company in the Spring of 1996, and when Cunanan announced his plans to visit, Trail reportedly told his sister that he "didn't want him [Cunanan] to come." The navy veteran had started dating someone, and, according to the New York Times, Cunanan was "terribly hurt by a breakup with Mr. Trail."


Jeffrey Trail was afraid prior to and during his move to Annapolis. A friend of his reported to CBS News right before his move that Trail had procured a handgun, "I'm gonna be safe, I've got this," he said. A month before the murder, Trail admitted to a friend that Cunanan had asked him to help in his illegal business (presumably drug trafficking). Trail refused.

In April of 1997, Cunanan told witnesses that he was heading to Minnesota to "settle some business" with an old friend. Jeffrey Trail was found on April 29, 1997beaten to death by 25-30 blows of a claw hammer, and rolled into a carpet on David Madson's floor.

David Madson

David Madson, 33, and Andrew Cunanan were exes. The two met on a night out in San Francisco in 1995, and their connection was allegedly"pretty sparky." Madson was considered by his friends to be charismatic, outgoing, and a "peacemaker." He was an architect with John Ryan Company in Minneapolis where he was quite successful.

Madson led a lavish life, one Cunanan wanted to be a part of. According to an article in the Washington Post, Madson had a Dalmatian named Prints, drove a bright red jeep, and ate out at luxury restaurants. The two continued a relationship after Madson returned to his home-base in Minneapolis.

Their relationship ended by September 1996, when Madson began to distance himself from Cunanan, who described Madson as "the love of my life". It was not long after this that Jeffrey Trail would also move to Minneapolis, spurring Cunanan's paranoia and suspicion that perhaps the two knew of each other.

Also at this time, Cunanan reportedly believed he had contracted AIDS. According to a San Diego AIDS counselor, Cunanan had come by and asked about the virus. He reportedly said to the counselor, "If I find out who did this to me, I'm gonna get them!"


An autopsy on Cunanan showed that he did not have the virus.

The Murders

A 'Most Wanted' document from the FBI outlining Cunanan's murder of Madson.

Cunanan traveled to Minneapolis in April 1997 and visited Madson first. The two had a night out on the town replete with dinner, drinks, and dancing. Cunanan reportedly spent the evening at Madson's, and the following evening at Trail's, while Trail was traveling with his new partner. Cunanan invited Trail to Madson's the next night, and Trail was discovered dead in Madson's apartment two days later.

Madson, on the other hand, was found four days after the discovery of Trail. His body was discovered near a lake about 50 miles from his home, and he'd been shot with what is believed to be Trail's handgun.

The Golden Saber .40-cal. bullets that were found lodged into Madson's head and back were the same found in Cunanan's later victims, and finally in his suicide.

Cunanan left conspicuous links back to himself. A duffel-bag with his name on it was discovered at the crime scene by Trail's body. There was also a message on Trail's home phone from Cunanan inviting him to come to Madson's.

Madson's bright red jeep was left at the scene of Cunanan's next crime, parked outside Lee Miglin's home. From there investigators would try, although this would prove to be futile, to follow Cunanan. The obvious clues suggest that perhaps Cunanan wanted to be caught, or at least to be linked to what he had done.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will broadcast their interpretation of these two grisly murders, on FX this Wednesday at 10 PM EST.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Leah Silverman
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