As The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story retraces the steps of Andrew Cunanan backward through time, we leave behind the man considered to be his most famous alleged victim, Gianni Versace, and now find ourselves facing his other famous alleged victim, Lee Miglin. (We say "alleged," as Cunanan's suicide means he never stood trial or was found guilty of the murders.) Who were the Miglins? How did Cunanan get involved with them? Who is Lee Miglin's son, Duke Miglin?
Miglin's death didn't just garner so much sensationalism due to the manner of his murder. He was a well-known real estate figure in the Chicago area. According to Miglin Properties' current website, founder Lee Miglin had a 50-year career in real estate, and was the visionary who first created the concept of "business park," those low-rise warehouse-office plazas, as well as building the first Office Complex, those group of identical high rise business centers that are usually connected via underground mazes.
Miglin's wife, Marilyn Miglin, was a successful Home Shopping Network businesswoman in cosmetic sales and perfume. She was on a business trip to Canada at the time of Miglin's death. Duke is their son and an aspiring actor. After his father's death, he chose to give up that career and continue his father's legacy in real estate.
How Did Lee Miglin Die?
Prior to the death of Versace, Cunanan had stuck to alleged victims who were mostly seen as small potatoes, nothing big enough to get the FBI, allegedly including former lover David Madson and their friend, Jeffrey Trail. That all changed when Lee Miglin was found in his garage, in what was described at the time in the Chicago media as an elaborate death scene.
The Family Insists It Was A Random Killing
Duke Miglin insisted in a recent interview with ABC that his father never met Cunanan and that despite rumors at the time that said otherwise, Lee Miglin's death was a random killing.
There was no relationship whatsoever. A lot of false things were brought up and they were very hurtful, very painful, for me personally and there were attacks on me as well that I really didn't appreciate. And I still don't.
His view is backed up by former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, Robert Milan. Milan told ABC:
Some of his crimes were simply crimes of opportunity. I've never seen any credible evidence to show that there was a relationship.
What Really Happened? We Just Don't Know
How did someone so prominent wind up in Cunanan's crosshairs? Rumors were rife that Miglin met Cunanan while looking for sex while his wife was away. There were even stories that Duke knew Cunanan via his attempts at becoming an actor. But Miglin's family insisted this was all conjecture, Miglin had never met Cunanan, and this was a random killing.
Despite what the show portrays, by the time Time Magazine was writing about the murder in 2001, the rumors had been dropped, and the accepted theory had become that just Miglin being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Reports say Cunanan was nearby because of the club's location and needed to ditch the car he was driving. (It was allegedly registered to Madison, whose body had reportedly been found a day or so before.) Miglin just happened to be in the garage when Cunanan attempted to steal the car.
Though The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story uses the version of events portrayed in Maureen Orth's book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U. S. History, it's notable that the episode focused on the night of Miglin's death is entitled "A Random Killing."