Who was Lee Miglin? His past will make you feel especially sad about his murder


The third episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, titled “A Random Killing,” finally takes leave of the sun-soaked Miami setting of the first two episodes and begins to follow the timeline of Andrew Cunanan’s (Darren Criss) murder spree backwards, largely focusing on the shocking murder of Chicago real estate magnate Lee Miglin.

While Cunanan’s first two victims, Jeffrey Trail and David Madsen — who haven’t been depicted on American Crime Story, yet — were known acquaintances of the killer, Miglin’s death has long been seen a puzzling event in Cunanan’s spree.

In the series, Miglin (Mike Farrell) is depicted as a closeted gay man, who welcomes Cunanan into his home for a sexual encounter while his wife is away for the weekend. Like its on-screen depiction, Miglin’s murder was startlingly gruesome, complete with his head completely wrapped in masking tape (save the nostrils), ribs broken, multiple stab wounds, and his throat slashed.

Cunanan then made himself at home: shaving, making a sandwich, even sleeping in Miglin’s bed, before departing in Miglin’s car with a slew of stolen possessions. There was never any doubt that Cunanan was Miglin’s killer, but since the murder, the Miglin family has maintained that the gruesome murder was completely random as the family had never been in any sort of contact with Cunanan.

So who was Lee Miglin, Cunanan’s first high-profile murder victim?

Lee Miglin
John Reilly/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Miglin was a well-known real estate tycoon in Chicago, the chairman of real estate development firm Miglin-Beitler Inc. One of seven children and the son of a coal miner, Miglin worked in real estate development for 50 years. His wife, Marilyn, was a former model and burgeoning HSN cosmetics maven for 38 years,and  the two were prominent in the wealthy Chicago Gold Coast social scene.

In addition to their stature among the Chicago elite, Lee and Marilyn were also fixtures for their dedication to philanthropy. They had two children, Marlena and Duke, an aspiring actor who had a small role in Air Force One before deciding to follow in his father’s real estate development footsteps in the wake of his death.

Like ACS depicts, Miglin was reportedly very meticulous, which is how Marilyn knew upon arriving home to food left out on the counter — after her husband didn’t pick her up from the airport — that something was terribly wrong.

The Miglin family has continued their insistence that neither Lee nor any other member of the family had ever come into contact with Cunanan in the two decades since the murder. While many, including law enforcement officials and reporters who covered the story, remain skeptical due to the circumstances surrounding the murder, the family’s insistence and unrelenting privacy has ensured Lee Miglin’s death remains one of the most mysterious elements of Cunanan’s horrific murder spree.

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