In America there are numerous killers that have shocked the nation, but one killer in particular had the world completely dumbfounded. It was the ‘Craigslist Killer’ who would have many people asking questions and wondering why a soon to be graduate from medical school would commit such evil acts. With graduation right around the corner and wedding plans to make with his fiance, he seemed to have the world at his feet. So who is the ‘Craigslist Killer’? Philip Markoff, also known as the ‘Craigslist Killer’, was born February 12, 1986.
He grew up in Sherrill, New York, outside of Syracuse. He was the son of a dentist and of an educator-turned casino worker. Markoff attended Vernon-Sherrill Central School, where he was on the bowling team, history club and youth court and also a part of the National Honor Society. After high school, Markoff enrolled at the University of Albany, also acknowledged as SUNY, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology. At SUNY he met pre-med student Megan McAllister while volunteering at a nearby medical center emergency room (Source 1).
McAllister was a senior and Markoff was a sophomore when the two started dating in 2005 (Source 1). Three years later Markoff proposed to McAllister during a romantic carriage ride in Connecticut in May 2008 (Source 5). Their wedding service was to be at Long Island, New Jersey, on a beach with a wedding party of 19 containing two ring-bearers and three flower girls on August 14, 2009 (Source 4). Little did McAllister know that a few months before her dream wedding, her then fiance would be nicknamed the ‘Craigslist Killer’ and be convicted of multiple assaults and murder.
Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements with sections devoted to jobs, housing, and personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums. Markoff’s obvious favorite advertisements where those in the erotic category. The erotic services categories are one of the 100 categories on Craigslist, which accounts for 1% of ads. Some say the erotic category is the largest source of prostitution and pornography in America.
Craigslist is where Markoff soon began to find his victims to terrorize and pursue. He would post inappropriate pictures of himself and look for women, some rumor to say males too, around the area to meet him for what could be massages or lap dances. He would have the individuals meet him at hotels and there he would assault them (Source 6). Markoff thought he was smart and get away for what he did but soon he would be caught. Markoff’s first victim was Tricia Leffler, a 29 year old Las Vegas woman who was fleeing from that city’s crackdown on vice.
Tricia went to Craigslist online and placed an ad in the erotic categories section as an escort, with her ad headline as “Sweet Blonde” and claims that she started getting phone calls right away. Markoff would be one of those responding to the add (Source 7). April 10, 2009 is the night Tricia would be face to face with the young, good looking man at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts that she met on Craigslist. Once the door was closed, Markoff pulled out a very destructive looking gun and pointed it at Leffler. He told her “If you do everything you’re asked, no harms gonna to come to you.
Lay down, put your hands behind your back” according to Leffler. When he started to walk towards her, he put the gun back in his pocket. He knelt down with one knew in between her legs and grabbed $800 cash that she had on her and put it in his own pocket. He also took her credit and debit cards while he made no attempt to disguise his face, but he was quick to getting his phone number off of her cell phone. Markoff then picked up a pair of Leffler’s underwear from the floor and put them in his pocket and proceeded to walk around the hotel room as if he were looking for something.
He lead Leffler to the bathroom where he tied her up to the doorknob with zip ties and cut three pieces of duct tape with a knife in his pocket to tape over her mouth. With the knife he also cut the phone lines in the hotel room. Leffler noticed that although Markoff had gloves with him, he had yet to put the gloves on, meaning that his fingerprints were all over the tape he had used on her. He soon then exited the room and left Leffler there tied up. Leffler waited a while then freed herself from the zip ties and went to her neighbor’s room and asked them to call security, that she had just been robbed at gunpoint.
Boston police soon arrived at the hotel and immediately started questioning Leffler (Source 7). Just four days after Markoff attacked Leffler, he was on the prowl again, but this time it would in end murder. His next victim would be Julissa Brisman, a masseuse and former call girl that Markoff met at the Copley Marriot hotel in Boston, Massachusetts on April 14, 2009 at 10:00 p. m. (Source 1). Thirteen minutes later police discovered Brisman in the doorway of her room after receiving reports of a disturbance.
Brisman was found unconscious with multiple gun wounds; one in particular was to the heart (Source 4). She was transferred to Boston Medical Center and was pronounced dead, causes were because of multiple injuries (Source 1). Brisman was just a 26-year-old young lady doing her best battling alcoholism. The Boston police soon realized how seriously dangerous the ‘Craigslist Killer’ really was (Source 4). Shortly after Brisman’s murder another assault was reported, matching the same description of a man of her murder, 60 miles away in Warwick, Rhode Island.
On April 16, 2009, just two days after Brisman was declared dead, Markoff would already find a new victim. The victim, who would be kept nameless, was a 26-year-old nightclub dancer that advertised private lap dances on Craigslist. Markoff met the dancer at a hotel in Rhode Island (unknown) and bounded her with plastic cord attempting to rob her at gunpoint, but he would be put to a stop when the dancer’s husband heard loud ruction and entered the hotel room and chased Markoff away (Source 4).
The Boston police needed to put this man to a stop before another dupe would be in danger. On April 15, 2009 first victim, Tricia Leffler, was contacted by the Boston police department urging her to talk to them about something important. They arrived at Leffler’s apartment with a photograph of Markoff that was taken by the Copley Marriot hotel security camera. Leffler was quick to identify Markoff when seeing the photograph. The Boston police immediately realized they had a prime suspect now (Source 7).
Markoff was under police surveillance for several days before he was arrested during a traffic stop south of Boston, just five days after being identified by Leffler. It appears that Markoff and fiancee, Megan McAllister, were headed to Foxwoods resort and casino on Connecticut with thousands of dollars in cash. Even though he had no previous criminal record, Markoff was accused of kidnapping, armed robbery and first degree murder on April 20, 2009 (Source 1). After Markoff’s arrest the investigation began. Investigators were able to urn the tables on the suspect by using some of the same techniques he used to target his own victims. Investigators revealed records of calls Markoff made and e-mails he had sent to his victims that he regularly would use from his apartment in Quincy, south of Boston (Source 4). They also found in Markoff’s apartment a semi-automatic weapon inside a hollowed-out copy of the medical textbook, Grey’s Anatomy of the Human Body, restraints, duct tape (Source 1), swiped panties and plastic handcuffs (Source 3).
With Everything the investigators dug up, police now had a preliminary match between a handgun found in Markoff’s apartment and the one to use kill Julissa Brisman, a match between Markoff’s fingerprints and prints found on duct tape and plastic restraints at crime scenes and a positive ID from Tricia Leffler who he had allegedly been robbed by Markoff on April 10, 2009 (Source 5). In result of Philip Markoff’s arrest, Craigslist would no longer accept postings to the erotic category and it would shortly be removed right after.
They would now charge $10 postings to be in the adult category and once approved, they can be reposted for $5. The controversies of the erotic category lead people to think that it was nothing but prostitution over the internet. Attorneys from the north met with Craigslist officials to put an end to ads for illegal sexual activities. In Craigslist terms of service and agreement, it states they have a moral and legal responsibility in its commitments to the public’s safety, now they would have to follow their words (Source 6).
There would be a big twist in the unraveling story of Philip Markoff. An ‘almost’ victim of Markoff appeared on NBC’s Today show on April 27, 2009. Unlike his usual sufferers, this one was an adolescent man that claims Markoff had made contact with him by responding to a bulletin board for a man seeking transsexuals. The young man pleas that Markoff would send him post-arrest and sexually inappropriate pictures while they were communicating through Craigslist. Markoff would plead not guilty, but wouldn’t make it to the end of his trial (Source 5).
Philip Markoff would take his life by his own hands on August 15, 2010; it would be exactly a day after what would have been the one-year of his cancelled wedding anniversary (Source 1). When arriving at the scene, officials found the words “Megan” (who was his ex fiance) and “pocket” scrawled in his blood on the wall of his jail cell. The evidence that was collected suggested that Markoff killed himself by cutting his body multiple times with a makeshift scalpel made up from a pen and a piece of metal. He inflicted numerous punctures on his neck, wrist, arms and ankles that caused him to hit several veins and the carotid artery in his neck.
Given the wounds on his body, his death was projected as a suicide. A clear plastic bag was fastened around his neck with a piece of gauze as well as another one that was attached to his feet. The autopsy declared Markoff’s death to be the result in suffocation and great amounts of blood loss (Source 2). Maybe Markoff took his own life because of the guilt he had in his himself. Markoff never explained his reasons to be why he would assault women with such violence and rage and seem to get pleasure from doing so.
Some people speculate that he had a desire to control women with violence and attack them when they are weak, almost as if he were trying to be a dominator (Source 8). Others insist that he incurred gambling debts that he couldn’t pay and he would rob women to try to scoop us some money. Also, it was reported in court that Markoff disclosed that he had unpaid student loans leading up to $130,000 that caused him to be in debt. Weather his motive was because of the pleasure he got from having control of women, or the need to have money to pay off his debts, no one will really know the truth (Source 5).
In conclusion, Philip Markoff seemed to be an intelligent, wealthy and blessed man, but deep down he was a murderer and assaulter of young women in New Jersey and Rhode Island. He was a soon to be doctor-turned-killer and his actions would leave America in shock and having people question, can you really judge a person by looking at them. Markoff is a prime example that even if someone looks perfectly fine on the outside, something on the inside could be completely terrifying. Philip Markoff was a young man, who appeared to have his life headed to a bright future, but something in him was evil and he was created into the ‘Craigslist Killer’.