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Philip Markoff - The Craigslist Killer

Smart, Good Looking and Deadly

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Philip Markoff

Philip Markoff

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Philip Markoff was in his second year of medical school when he was arrested for robbery and murder. He earned the moniker "Craigslist Killer" because it was believed that he found his victims through the exotic ads that they placed on Craigslist.

Early Life

Philip Markoff, born February 12, 1986, grew up in the small town (population 3,147) of Sherill, New York. Philip's parents divorced when he was in elementary school. He stayed with his mother and his older brother went with his father who was a dentist in Syracuse.

Those who remembered Philip Markoff as a child described him as being well behaved and a good student.

High School Years

Throughout high school, Markoff's behavior was exemplary. He was clean-cut, popular and involved in student activities including the youth court and history club.

Physically he was good looking and stood out from a lot of the boys his age. He was six-foot-three-inches tall with broad shoulders and a husky frame. Most boys his size would have been going out for the football team, but Markoff was a strong competitor on the bowling team and liked to play golf.

Academically, Markoff was very serious about his education and preparing for his future. His accomplishments included being a honor student and a member of the National Honor Society. Phillip Markoff's future looked bright.

College Years

After high school Markoff went to the University of Albany where he showed an intense desire to excel. He took on extra courses and graduated in three years with a bachelor's degree in biology.

Socially, Markoff was reserved with friends and awkward around women. He studied a lot and worked as a volunteer at the emergency room of the local hospital. The one thing he would do for fun was play in all-night poker games with his friends. He earned a reputation for being a good, but serious player -- sometimes too serious. He wasn't a very good loser.

Megan McAllister

Markoff met Megan McAllister at the hospital where he volunteered. Megan was attractive and sophisticated and two years older than Markoff. She asked him out on a date and he accepted. They continued to date regularly and became college sweethearts.

After graduating from college, Markoff and McAllister moved to Boston. Markoff had been accepted to Boston University Medical School. McAllister also planned to go to medical school, but one of the only schools that would accept her was in the St. Kitts in the Caribbean.

On May 17, 2008, Markoff proposed to McAllister and she accepted. She put her medical school plans on hold and began to focus on their wedding plans. The date was set for August 14, 2009.

Everything about their wedding was going to be first class. The wedding registry listed mainly expensive name brands of china, silver and crystal. It was as if she was planning everything for the successful future she knew the two would eventually share together.

The differences in their backgrounds became more apparent as the wedding date neared. Markoff came from a world where a microwavable casserole dish would make a great wedding gift. Megan came from a world where a casserole dish would likely not even be listed on the registry.

The truth was, Markoff was in debt for $130,000 and living off of credit. Even the $1,400 a month that he paid in rent came from borrowed money.

The Craigslist Killer

In April 2009, the police were investigating two separate crimes that surveillance images linked to the same man.

On April 10, Trisha Leffler was robbed at gunpoint in the Westin Hotel by a man who responded to an exotic ad she had placed on Craigslist.

Four days later on April 14, Julissa Brisman was found murdered in the doorway of her hotel room at the upscale Marriott Copley Place hotel. She had an appointment with a man named "Andy" that contacted her through her Craigslist ad.

The two corresponded by phone and by email and the investigators had "Andy's" email address. This proved to be a major break in their investigation.

The news media jumped on the story of the murder and by the following day news stories about the "Craigslist Killer" were being circulated nationwide. The police released a statement about the crime and the hotel surveillance photos of the man that the police wanted to question.

On April 16, Cynthia Melton was attacked by a man at a Holiday Inn Express in Providence, Rhode Island. The man had contacted her through an ad she had placed on Craigslist. Authorities knew by the pictures caught on the hotel security camera that her attacker was the same man that the Boston authorities were looking for -- the one that they called the "Craigslist Killer."

Foxwoods Casino

On April 15, Philip Markoff left Boston and headed to Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. This was a familiar place to him. He had been there 19 times in the last three months. This time he stayed for two days and managed to turn $700 into $5,300 in winnings.

Police Have a Suspect

On April 18, 2007, the investigators had the emails from "Andy" traced to a "Philip Markoff". They had an address that was an apartment building. What they couldn't find was a driver's license on this Markoff guy.

Then, a lucky break. They did a search on Facebook, and located the couple's wedding page that Megan McAllister had enthusiastically put up. That is how investigators learned that Markoff was a medical student at Boston University. They got a copy of his student picture I.D. and compared it to the video images they had of the suspect.

A 24-hour surveillance team was set up and they followed Markoff in BJ's supermarket. There they were able to pick up items Markoff touched and they send them off for fingerprint analysis.

Better pictures of Markoff were sent to Melton and Leffler. They both identified him as their attacker.

Philip Markoff is Arrested

On April 20, 2007, Philip Markoff and Megan McAllister were in her car, headed to a Foxwoods Casino when the police pulled them over on I-95. With guns drawn, they cuffed Markoff and told him he was under arrest for the murder of Julissa Brisman.

Megan McAllister was in shock and kept insisting that the police made a mistake.

Both Markoff and McAllister were questioned. Markoff proved to be difficult. He questioned specifics about his Miranda rights and would not give direct answers to the questions he was being asked.

McAllister was just the opposite. She answered all the questions that they asked without hesitation. There was nothing she felt she needed to hide.

McAllister, still convinced that the police had the wrong person, began contacting news sources with what she thought was the truth. There was no way the Philip Markoff that she knew could have murdered anyone.

She continued to believe in Markoff, up until the time the police divulged the evidence that was discovered in their apartment.

The Search

The evidence found in Markoff's apartment included:
  • A gun was found in a medical book that had been hollowed out. Markoff had purchased it in Mason, New Hampshire using a driver's license in the name of Andrew Miller. The same license was found on him at the time of his arrest. Markoff's prints had also been found on the purchasing document.

  • Bullets matching the kind used in the shooting death of Brisman.

  • Plastic zip-ties that were the same kind as used on the victims.

  • Duct tape that matched that used on Leffler.

  • Laptop computer with fragments of communication to Brisman.

  • Disposable TracFone cell phones that were unused and had been purchased in February 2009.

  • In the box springs of the couple's mattress, police found rolled socks stuffed with 16 pairs of panties, two of which had been stolen from Leffler and another two that had been stolen from Melton. The owners of the other 14 were not identified.
The socks concerned investigators. Did it mean there were other victims? Was the reason that Markoff was so cool and collected when he robbed Trisha Leffler because he had done it before? The investigators continued to dig.
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