In tonight's season finale of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, we witnessed the demise of the alleged serial killer, Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) at his own hand. And while the death of Cunanan led to closure for the wife of one of Cunanan's earlier victims, Marilyn Miglin (Judith Light), the end of the season has left many viewers curious about what happened to the rest of the characters, and their real life inspirations.
Specifically, I found myself wondering what happened to the second most chilling and vapid presence on the show: Modesto "Pete" Cunanan.
To answer your first question: no, Modesto is not alive, according to Maureen Orth, the author of Vulgar Favors: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the source material for the FX show. While there is very little about his recent whereabouts or late life available online, she refers to him as the "late Modesto "Pete" Cunanan" in a piece about Ryan Murphy's television adaptation of her book. For context, he was 74 at the time of the murders, which means he would be very old — at least 94 — today.
And to answer your second, yes he was that relentless in his quest to find success through his son's infamy. In between abandoning his family and resurfacing to become the face of his son's media presence, Modesto had joined a survivalist cult, and was searching for gold that was rumored to have been hidden in Japan during World War II. But then immediately after talking to his son about hiding out from law enforcement, he really did try to sell the rights to his son's story. He was ready to capitalize on the brutal crimes his son committed, because narcissism knows no bounds. According to a Los Angeles Times article published on September 19, 1997, Modesto continued to pitch a feature film as well as a documentary about his son for months after his suicide. He used conspiracy theories to promote interest in the film, claiming that his son's death was part of a "deep cover-up."
"The American people are being misled," Cunanan said in 1997 while on a press tour of sorts, spreading the word about the two projects he hoped to release about his son. "They swallowed everything hook, line and sinker because it came from the FBI." In another write-up on Modesto from 1997 in the Chicago Tribune, the stock broker turned scam artist emphasized that his son was not gay, and that he does not believe what law enforcement is claiming: "My son is not like that. He is innocent. He is not a homosexual; he had a Catholic upbringing and was an altar boy. . . . I don't believe he did what the American police say he did." Of course, he had required that he be the sole executor of his son's estate because "if any money comes out of it, it's sacred money."
After 1997, Modesto remained in the country determined to turn Andrew's notoriety into a pay day, even mentally casting John F. Kennedy Jr. as the lead role. When nothing panned out, he likely ended up back in the Philippines to avoid prosecution for his own federal crimes. It's unclear if he ever benefitted financially from his son's heinous acts.
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