Do you have a nickname?
While I’ve been called many things in life, only two nicknames have stuck. These days, I’m affectionately known as “Peeps”. However, in 1997, my good friend and co-anchor, Ny Lynn Nichols, at KLBK, in Lubbock, Texas, hometown of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Buddy Holly, branded me as “Cunanan”. She still refers to me that way today.
For those that may not remember that name, Andrew Cunanan was a California man who went on a five-person murder spree in the spring and summer of 1997. His first known victim was killed 15 years ago today, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His second victim was also from Minneapolis. From there, days later, Cunanan killed Chicago socialite Lee Miglin and took his car. He then killed a cemetery worker in New Jersey in early May 1997 and took his truck.
Cunanan was added to the “FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list and he hid pretty much in plain sight in Miami Beach, Florida, until July 15, 1997, when he became known worldwide when he murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace. Eight days later, as the FBI closed in on him, Cunanan committed suicide on a Miami houseboat.
So, why did Ny Lynn call me “Cunanan”, a spree killer? Notice that I call him a spree killer and not a serial killer. For whatever reasons he killed his first two victims and Versace, his third and fourth murders were out of necessity for their vehicles to get away. John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and my favorite, Dexter Morgan, are serial killers. They have a certain Modus operandi to their killings.
When pictures began circulating through the media in 1997 during the three-month killing spree, there was a strong resemblance between me and Cunanan.
I was the weekend news anchor in Lubbock at the CBS affiliate then and I was reading a story about Cunanan and an OTS (over-the-shoulder graphic) appeared on-screen with me as I was introducing it.
We did get a few phone calls!
So, that is why I had the nickname “Cunanan” in 1997!
News is a funny business. While that wasn’t intended to be something to look back at and laugh, it turned out that way.