Philip Markoff was an unlikely murderer. The 23-year old was tall, blond, and excelled academically. He was also a bit of a nerd. That doesn’t matter though when you’re meeting women anonymously on Craigslist. Over a one week period in April 2009, Markoff used Craigslist to meet three escorts; he robbed and beat two prostitutes at gunpoint on two separate occasions, and murdered another.
All the while, he quietly went about his life as a Boston University medical student. Until he was arrested on April 20; then his life came crumbling down. On August 15, 2010, one year after he was supposed to be married, Markoff committed suicide in prison. This Philip Markoff wiki looks to unravel the double life he led and understand what it was that created the Craigslist killer.
Who Was Philip Markoff?
Philip Markoff was born on Wednesday, February 12, 1986, in the small town of Sherrill, New York. Sherrill had a population of around 3,150 and a welcome sign that boasts, “The Smallest City in New York State.”
When Philip was young, his parents divorced. He stayed with his mother Susan, while his brother Jonathan went with his father Richard, who was a dentist in Syracuse. Richard remarried, as did Susan. She married Gary Carroll, a banker, and they had a daughter together in 1991. They divorced years later.
Friends and acquaintances of the Markoffs said the family was very quiet and kept to themselves. They remember Philip as being well liked and a good student. In particular, Sonja Hluska, who lived right behind the family and taught Philip English at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, said he was “the nicest young man, polite, respectful, with a good sense of humor.”
Indeed, Markoff was well liked in high school, he was good looking, clean cut, 6’3”, and had broad shoulders. While most kids with his frame would try out for football, Markoff excelled at bowling and liked to play golf. In addition to being an honor student and a member of the National Honor Society, Markoff was also involved with the youth court and history club.
What he was not involved with were girls. He did not have a girlfriend and, according to Hluska, had his own friends who were more interested in computers and science, “like Trekkies.”
After graduating high school, Markoff went to SUNY Albany, where he was a pre-med student majoring in biology. But, because he took so many advanced-placement courses, he graduated in just three years.
While Markoff was active in a coed, pre-med fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, some classmates said he wasn’t really all that comfortable in his own skin. And what you saw on the outside wasn’t who he was on the inside.
Another friend, Tiffany Montgomery, who was Markoff’s lab partner at Boston University (where he was accepted for medical school) said, “You never knew with Phil what you were going to get. He wouldn’t look at you when he talked to you and often seemed tired and depressed.”
Montgomery remembered when the two were at a party together, Markoff had been drinking and kept flirting with women who were just not into him.
“They weren’t flirting back, but he would just keep it up. He had no real idea of himself—he couldn’t read body language.”
Philip Markoff met Megan McAllister at a hospital where he volunteered. She was a pretty, strawberry-blonde senior who was also pre-med. She asked him on a date and the nerdy Markoff accepted.
They ended up dating and, after graduating from SUNY Albany, moved to Boston; Markoff had been accepted to Boston University Medical School. McAllister, meanwhile, was accepted into a medical school in St. Kitts, in the Caribbean.
McAllister’s plans were put on hold though. On May 17, 2008, Markoff proposed to McAllister; she accepted. The date for their wedding was set for August 14, 2009.
The Double Life of Philip Markoff, the Craigslist Killer
In April 2009, while McAllister was at home nursing an injured back and planning for her wedding, Markoff was planning a string of violent crimes. It started on April 10, 2009.
On April 10, Markoff responded to an erotic ad Trish Leffler placed on Craigslist. Leffler was staying at Westin Copley Place, an upscale hotel in downtown Boston. She greeted the tall, blonde Markoff outside her room and invited him in.
He entered and quickly pointed a gun at her, ordered her to lie down on the floor on her stomach, and bound her with plastic ties. Markoff went through her suitcase and took $800 and credit cards. He also put on plastic gloves and removed his number from her cell phone.
He did not try to do anything to her sexually.
He then took off his gloves and gagged her with duct tape, cut the phone lines, and took a souvenir —a pair of her panties.
The whole ordeal lasted more than 15 minutes.
Markoff’s next hookup took place four days later, on April 14, with Julissa Brisman. He went by the name Andy and she went by Morgan. The two actually never spoke to each other before the meeting; they communicated by e-mail or text.
Markoff used a disposable Trac phone and her friend pretended to be Morgan (Julissa) when setting up appointments. Markoff discovered Julissa in the Craigslist Erotic Services section on April 13; she was listed as a masseuse.
She said she was just visiting Boston for three days and had a room on the 20th floor of the Boston Marriott Copley Place. Markoff, using the email address [email protected], answered the anonymous address provided by Craigslist. Her reply came back from [email protected]
At 4:37 p.m., Markoff wrote, “I myself am visiting Boston and was looking for a 10 pm or later appointment tonight or tomorrow. Unfortunately, I will not be free any earlier.”
Julissa, who also worked part-time at a tanning salon in New York replied, “My Wednesday appointment moved later. I could do it tomorrow night or we can do 10:30 or 11 tonight if you wanted to see me later tonight. Let me know what you prefer. Morgan.”
At 7:03 p.m. Markoff replied, “Hey, Morgan: 10pm tomorrow is best for me. Thank you, Andy.”
The next night, April 14, 2009, Markoff used the Trac phone to say that he arrived early—at 9:41 p.m. He received a text telling him not to come up until 10. He was prompt.
Shortly after entering her hotel room, she was found unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds. She later died from her injuries at Boston Medical Center.
Police say a confrontation erupted shortly after Markoff entered the room. It appeared there was an attempted robbery. The 105 pound, 5’5” Brisman tried to resist but was no match. Markoff bashed her skull in with the butt of a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol.
He then shot her three times at close range: once in the heart, chest, and abdomen. A woman in a nearby hotel room heard screams and went into the hallway; she found the fully clothed Brisman sprawled across the doorway of her room. A piece of plastic tie, the same kind used to bind Leffler, was hanging from one wrist.
Video surveillance caught a tall blonde man wearing a dark cap leaving the hotel calmly, texting on his phone.
Brisman was killed 10 days before her 26th birthday, and two weeks before completing a year’s course in addiction counseling at City College of New York. At her funeral, a young woman pushing a six-month-old baby in a stroller said Julissa saved hers and her baby’s life.
Two days later, on April 16, Markoff found Cynthia Melton, a stripper who advertised lap dances on the Erotic Services section Craigslist. Using his Trac phone, Markoff set up an 11 p.m. meeting at the Warwick Holiday Inn Express, in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Once inside the room, Markoff pulled a gun, and, just like Leffler, made her lie face down on the floor. He tied her up using the same kind of plastic ties used on Brisman and Leffler.
He tried to stick a ball gag in her mouth, but she resisted. He finally gave up and set to rifling through the room looking for money and credit cards, reassuring her, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you. Just give me the money.”
At that point, Markoff was surprised to hear a knock on the door. It was Melton’s husband, Keith. He started to walk backward down the hall and tripped over. Markoff took off and ran down a stairwell.
During the week that Markoff committed these crimes, McAllister went home to New Jersey to plan the wedding. She said she spoke to Markoff every night. Before returning to Boston immediately after the crimes took place, her mother warned her to be careful, a guy there was hurting women.
Philip Markoff’s Wide and Varied Sex Life
The seemingly straight-laced Philip Markoff was into more than just women who worked as escorts, dancers, and masseurs. Markoff was also known to solicit transvestites in Boston.
Using Craigslist, in the free-of-charge Casual Encounters section, Markoff exchanged emails and photos with a transvestite. Police confirmed that a hard drive they seized from Markoff also contained messages to the transvestite.
The first message Markoff sent was dated May 2, 2008, at 12:29 a.m. —just two weeks before he got engaged to Megan McAllister. The subject line read “Hey sexy.” The name that came up with the email address, [email protected] was “Phil Markoff.”
“I just saw your cl add, message me on AIM: my1name1is1phil,” he wrote. Adding, “I am 6’3” a 22y/o grad student.”
Markoff also sent along a picture of himself in a blue and white striped shirt, smiling. He posted the same picture to his now deleted Facebook account.
At 12:33 a.m. he received a response, “Hot ass to Phil: You got any more pix stud?”
A few minutes later, Markoff sent two pictures: a picture of his naked torso with the head cropped out, and a picture of his hard penis with a ruler next to it, measuring eight i