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No Suicide Warning Signs In Markoff, Sheriff Says

BOSTON — There is more information Monday about the weekend suicide of the so-called “Craigslist killer” Philip Markoff. Before he killed himself, Markoff wrote on his cell wall — in blood — the name of his former fiancee, “Megan.”

Markoff was found with neck and ankle wounds and a plastic bag over his head Sunday morning.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral joined WBUR Tuesday morning with the latest on the case.

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  • Dave Hofert

    Deborah – I generally like your reporting when I hear it, but I thought you were a bit over the top today trying to find some reason for Sherriff Cabral’s failure to see this suicide coming. It may be that they did miss some signs, but he’d been off suicide watch since 5/14/09 – well over a year. If he’s not showing signs, then I guess others are and I suppose the attention was spent there. I don’t have any facts or insights into this case beyond what’s reported – but it felt a bit like you were aggressively trying to pin some blame on the Sherriff’s department when it’s not clear that they did anything wrong. We all know that Markoff was broken to some extent and it is unfortunate that he took justice into his own hands, but without a lot more funding for treatment in prisons, I’m not sure what they could do.

  • http://chelseama.gov Karen Budrow

    Ditto to Dave’s remarks but you did allow me to see the quality we have in this Sheriff. I thought Sheriff Cabral was very clear and understandable in her response; I was quite proud of her today.
    I deeply wish we provided more services to our prison population, both those in prison and for those who hold them in custody.

  • D. DelVecchio

    I have to agree with Dave Hofert and Karen Budrow. I struggled with your reportage today, Deborah, and even began asking myself why I should continue to be a WBUR listener and supporter. It seemed as though you were clutching at straws to depict Andrea Cabral in a poor light when in fact the Sheriff stood up very well to your repeated questioning.

    I’m very sorry for the poor soul who was Mr. Markoff and for the many people who trusted him. I also believe strongly in all of the constitutional protections that were afforded him. But don’t you “get” that this guy is not a sympathetic person? I feel you missed an opportunity to provide some non-judgmental insights to our jail system.

  • Lindsey Brown

    Deborah, I found myself wondering if I had somehow mistakenly tuned into a Fox News report. I’ve grown accustomed to a level of detatchment and professionalism in news reports on NPR, and found this morning’s interview of Sheriff Cabral lacking in both. I have a newfound respect for Sheriff Cabral now, and both you and NPR have some damage control with which to deal if you are to win back my respect.

  • judith ann sigmund

    I found myself angered by this report this morning by Deborah Becker to the point that for the first time ever I went to the website to post a comment. I was pleasantly surprised to find that several people reacted with similar disdain regarding this particular report and NPR’s role in allowing this type of journalism. As a psychiatrist in the community, I have not worked in the criminal justice system but have worked in in-patient and institutional settings and know the complex balancing act clinicians and administrators must engage in to protect patients’/residents’ civil rights and liberties while also protecting them from harm. Given the information given (and it appears the reporter did little to seek information that would have been useful to flesh out this complex issue), it appears it would have been cruel to subject this inmate to constant scrutiny now because of suicidal thoughts he had 12 months ago during the crisis of being newly incarcerated. Becker could have explored prison policies regarding inmates’ right to privacy, or might have asked local psychiatrists, psychologists or other mental health professionals their views on the effects of being under constant surveillance for 12 months. This could be construed as punishing someone because they had symptoms of mental illness one year ago. NPR, please do not resort to network news tactics to increase viewership to get more sponsorship! This story was intense and sensational, when it could have been an opportunity to explore the challenges of taking care of people in institutions, respecting their right to privacy while also staying concerned about their safety.

  • Ann Coles

    I strongly concur with the comments about the abrasive manner in which Deborah Becker questioned Sheriff Cabral. Ms. Becker’s repeatedly asking the same question made it sound as if she thought Sheriff Cabral didn’t understand her, while the Sheriff’s answers made it clear that she in fact did. I also thought that she missed Sheriff Cabral’s excellent point that just because Mr. Markoff is a white, middle-class male does not entitle him to special treatment.

  • Gaurav Khanna

    I really have nothing else to add to what all the of the previous commenters have already mentioned. Deborah’s coverage of this news item was way out of line. I expect more from a station that I personally contribute to. If your objective really was to point out the lack of psychological services available to our prison population, I’m sure you could have figured out a way to do it in a more professional manner rather than trying for a gotcha moment on air.

  • Carbral Sucks

    The comments above are obviously a bunch of Cabral supporters since no one comments on these types of stories. Simply said, Cabral screwed up. She had one of the biggest killers in her jail and she let him kill herself. Her one job was to preserve his life so that he could stand trial. She failed. There is no if, and or buts. She failed. He is dead. She failed her mission and her job and should be fired. She is one in a long line of political hires to fill a quota.

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