Whatever became of the Craigslist Killer?
Just a couple of months ago the internet was buzzing with the news of the so called “Craigslist Killer” — an unknown man whose method of murder involved hiring “massage therapists” on Craigslist and then assaulting, robbing, or even killing them.
The Craigslist Killer made such a splash in the news and in the public eye that Craigslist, the popular private retail and real estate website, was forced to shut down that part of their business that advertised “Sexual services” such as massages and exotic dancing.
The man accused of being the Craigslist Killer, Philip Markoff, appeared in court today in Suffolk County for his arraignment hearing.
Markoff, a mild mannered medical student, is accused of killing a masseuse he met via Craigslist. At his arraignment, Markoff spoke in a chillingly confident and even keeled voice, saying he is “not guilty” of any of the seven charges he is facing. His arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court was something of a media madhouse, with cameras and reporters stalking the scene. Markoff is charged with first degree murder and six other charges stemming from a single attack that prosectures say that have evidence he committed. These are not the only charges Markoff may face, as he is purportedly linked to other Craigslist based crimes.
Markoff’s defense attorney John Salsberg did not say much at this arraignment. Salsberg offered no early defense for his client in court or present any argument in favor of bail, probably hoping to avoid attention altogether. John Salsberg asked the judge, Magistrate Gary D. Wilson, to keep the prosecution from repeating the details of Markoff’s alleged crimes, arguing that the repetition of the well known crimes would “poison a potential jury pool” — Magistrate Wilson dismissed that request, as expected, deciding to allow the prosecution to continue reciting the alleged facts of Markoff’s crime. Though the prosecution’s description took quite a while, no new details came out of this recitation. This could be because the case of the Craigslist Killer was so popular in April of this year, and all the details that could have come out have already been squeezed out.
Wearing a plain blue dress shirt and showing little emotion or express, Philip stood and listened to Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Edmond Zabin go over the “brutal nature” of Markoff’s alleged attacks on three women that he supposedly met through Craigslist. Zabin gave particular attention to the details related to the first degree murder charge, pointing out the specific and “brutal” details of the “deadly assault” against 25-year-old Julissa Brisman that occured on April 14, 2009.
As expected, Zabin argued that the defendant Philip Markoff should continue to be held “without bail”. Zabin made reference to the “strength of the evidence at this point against Mr. Markoff, which at this point includes video and electronic and documentary evidence and forensic evidence linking him to all three of these crimes, the least of which is to the murder weapon.” Markoff can be seen looking calm but nervous, even swallowing hard in one photo circulating the newswire.
The Boston Globe reported today that prosecutors in the case told a grand jury that Markoff ‘used another man’s New York driver’s license” to purchase the 9mm automatic handgun allegedly used to kill Julissa Brisman at the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel in April. Besides hearing from prosecutors, the grand jury gathered for the arraignment heard testimony from Markoff’s alleged victims, witnesses to the crimes, and Markoff’s own fiancee, Megan McAllister, who made a name for herself on the talk show circuit defending Philip. You may remember that McAllister called off the couple’s wedding soon after Markoff’s arrest, though she still claims Markoff is “incapable” of the crimes he’s accused of committing.
The grand jury handed over the seven count indictment late last Thursday. Philip Markoff, who is only 23, was eventually arraigned this morning on charges of first degree murder, one count of armed robbery, one count of armed assault with intent to commit robbery, two counts of armed kidnapping, and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. After his arrest on April 20, Philip Markoff pleaded not guilty to charges that are connected to the murder of Julissa Brisman and the violent robbery of Trisha Leffler, who is a 29 year old prostitute from Las Vegas. According to Leffler, Markoff took her debit card, $800 in cash, and $250 in gift cards. The motive? It is unclear, though prosecutors have made mention of Markoff’s incredible gambling debts, said to run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Others speculate that Markoff is a sociopath — a charming and attractive person driven to commit terrible crimes.
In both cases against him, and in the case of a third assault in Rhode Island, Philip Markoff reported used prepaid cellphones and temporary or anonymous e mail addresses to make appointments via Craigslist with victims who had advertised their “erotic services” on the popular website. Allegedly, Markoff then tied his victims up with plastic zip ties and duct tape, incapacitating them so he could have his way.
As for how Markoff obtained the firearm, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he likely used a driver’s license belonging to a man named Andrew Miller to buy the gun in February. After this detail came out, prosecutors interviewed Andrew Miller and let him go — they do not believe he is connected to the crimes in any way.
Digging Markoff’s grave even deeper, fingerprints belonging to the young medical student were found on firearm registration forms filled out at the time that the gun was purchased.
Markoff’s alleged attacks were “quick and brutal” and his “methods were similar in all the cases”, according to Conley and other prosecutors. According to Conley — “He had a very brief encounter with Julissa Brisman. He bound her hands, he used the same ties that he used on Trisha Leffler, and they had a very, very violent struggle. And, in the course of that struggle, he hit Miss Brisman in the head with his gun. He then pressed the gun into her chest and he fired the gun. She suffered three gunshot wounds, and he fled the grounds.’’ Brisman died of her wounds.
The indictment was handed down only after the grand jury was given evidence (presented by prosecutors) and listened to testimony from multiple witnesses, including two victims and his one time fiancee Megan McAllister. Conley said the office of the prosecution presented “volumes of physical evidence”, including security camera footage from the hotels where the attacks happen that allegedly “clearly shows Markoff entering and leaving each attack”. Evidence presented also included fingerprints recovered from the duct tape used in the process of the crime, and fingerprints frm the plastic ties used to bind Markoff’s alleged victims.
Markoff was attending Boston University School of Medicine at the time of the attacks and his arrest, but officials at that University suspended him when prosecutors filed criminal charges. Before attending Boston University, Markoff graduated from the State University of New York at Albany, which is where he met McAllister.