How One Crucial Mistake Led to the Capture of the Craigslist Killer
On April 14, 2009, a woman named Julissa Brisman arranged to meet a man at the Marriott Copley Hotel in New York City. Once the two were inside her room, the man attacked Julissa and restrained her with plastic ties. When she fought back, he bashed her head in and shot her several times in the chest, killing her.
Julissa’s lifeless body was found in a pool of blood in her hotel room on the 20th floor by hotel staff who phoned the authorities. The police arrived and found a purse containing Julissa’s identification and cell phone. She had a missed call from a woman named Beth.
Beth informed the authorities she arranged meetings between Julissa and her clients; she had a 10 pm appointment that very night with a man who called himself ‘Andy M.’ Beth gave the police the man’s phone number and email address.
Two days after Julissa’s murder, an exotic dancer was attacked and robbed at the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, Rhode Island. Investigators remembered a similar incident that had occurred on April 10; Trisha Leffler was held at gunpoint and robbed at the Westin Copley Place hotel in Boston.
All three women had something in common; they had all placed ads on Craigslist offering massages and lap dances in exchange for money, and all three had arranged to meet the man who would later be referred to as the ‘Craigslist Killer.’
When investigators realized all three women had been bound with plastic ties, gagged and robbed in hotels after placing ads on Craigslist, they knew the attacks were connected to the same man, ‘Andy M.’
Investigators retained surveillance footage of a tall, clean-cut man with blonde hair at all three hotels around the same time as the attacks. He was wearing a brown leather jacket, brown leather shoes and a New York Yankees hat.
The woman who was robbed at the Holiday Inn Express refused to cooperate with the investigation, however, Trisha confirmed the man in the footage was the same man who had robbed her four days before killing Julissa.
The images were released to the public and within days, authorities received over 150 tips. However, it wasn’t the tips that led them to the perpetrator, it was the perpetrator himself.
Investigators discovered that the man who had replied to the Craigslist ads had used two different prepaid disposable phones. However, the Craigslist Killer had made one crucial mistake, he used his own computer. The IP address of the man who had responded to the ads was registered to a man named Philip Markoff.
Philip Markoff came from a broken home; his father Richard Markoff, a dentist, was rarely in the picture. Philip was raised by his mother Susan Hayes and her second husband Gary Carroll, a banker. Philip excelled in high school; he was on the honour roll and a member of many extra-curricular activities such as the golf and bowling teams.
Philip met Megan McAllister in 2005 while volunteering at the Albany Medical Center and the couple soon became engaged. He graduated from SUNY Albany in 2007 and began attending Boston University School of Medicine to fulfill his dreams of becoming a doctor.
On paper, Philip seemed to be the perfect man; he was easy on the eyes, intelligent, and a prospective doctor who volunteered his time to help others. But, in reality, he was an unemployed man with a gambling addiction, living a double life as the Craigslist Killer.
Philip’s M.O. was to scour Craiglist ads by women who offered massages and lap dances for money. He would respond to the ads and arrange to meet at local hotels. But, it wasn’t a massage or a lap dance Philip wanted from the women. He wanted their money to pay off his gambling debts.
After waiting for Philip and Megan to leave their Quincy, Massachusetts home for an errand, investigators entered the apartment with a warrant and found an insurmountable amount of evidence linking Philip to the crimes.
A New York driver’s license belonging to a man named ‘Andrew Miller’ was discovered (Philip’s alias was Andy M) along with 60 plastic ties (the same used to bound all three women) and sixteen pairs of panties believed to have belonged to the victims hidden beneath the couples’ bed.
The most damning evidence was the discovery of the 9mm semi-automatic handgun used to murder Julissa, found in a hollowed-out book. The bullets were taped to the back of the dryer.
Although Megan had no idea what her husband-to-be had been up to in his spare time, she found it odd when on April 20 he suddenly packed their bags and yanked her into their vehicle, insisting they go on an impromptu trip to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.
It was too late. Investigators had been watching Philip for days. He was arrested during a traffic stop and charged with the armed robbery, kidnapping and murder of Julissa Brisman.
At first, Megan defended her fiancé, stating he was, “a beautiful person, inside and out” and “could not hurt a fly.” She said it was not possible for Philip to have been the perpetrator, “I mean, we’re in the apartment 24/7. He doesn’t have a life because he’s in medical school.” she told detectives.
But, with the overwhelming amount of evidence against Philip, Megan could not deny the truth. A week later, she walked into Nashua Street Jail in Boston and told him their impending marriage was off. She said it would be a long time before they would see each other again — if ever.
On August 15, 2010, Philip committed suicide while in prison awaiting trial. He swallowed a wad of toilet paper, covered his head with a plastic bag and cut several arteries with a homemade razor he had fashioned from a pen. Written on the walls of his jail cell was ‘Megan’ in his blood. It would have been the ex-couples first wedding anniversary.
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