BU Medical Student Charged In Craigslist Killing

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This frame grab from a video surveillance camera at the Westin hotel on Wednesday, April 15, shows a "person of interest" in attacks on two masseuses-for-hire at luxury hotels. Police have now charged a Boston University medical student with the crimes. (AP Photo)
A video surveillance camera at the Westin Hotel on April 15 shows a "person of interest" in attacks on two masseuses-for-hire at luxury hotels. Police have now charged a Boston University medical student with the crimes. (AP Photo)

A Boston University Medical School student is due in court Tuesday on murder and kidnapping charges for allegedly arranging meetings with masseuses through Craigslist. Philip Markoff of Quincy was arrested Monday. Police have not said how they found him.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley called Markoff a predator and suggested that there may be more charges.

"We would like to make one final pitch to those out there who may have been a victim of robbery at the hands of Philip Markoff, especially those who have used Craiglist," Conley said.

Markoff is a 23-year-old from upstate New York who was in his second year of medical school at Boston University, until Monday. The school suspended him shortly after his arrest. Police say he did not have a prior criminal record.

BU officials would not comment on his record there, but say many people who knew Markoff were stunned to find out that he is the suspect in two — possibly three — cases that are getting a lot of national attention.

Markoff allegedly contacted one victim, Julissa Brisman, based on an advertisement for massage services through Craigslist, and police say he shot her in a Copley Marriott hotel room after she fought an attempted robbery.

He's also charged with robbing another woman after a similarly arranged meeting at the Westin Copley Hotel, and Rhode Island police are investigating what might be a third case there last week.

A Boston medical student who's engaged to be married this summer, Markoff's story sounds like a double-life. There are several Web sites that detail his wedding coming up in August — one that is still counting down the seconds and hours until the August date.

If Markoff was having trouble at school — the end of the second year of medical school is a very tough exam period time for students -- that's not yet known. At this point, nothing is really known about the motive, or the big question: why he did this, if he did this.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis and District Attorney Conley say they are still examining the whole question of motive.

They have not released details about the investigation, but Commissioner Davis says Markoff was under surveillance for several days before he was stopped Monday afternoon driving south on Interstate 95.

It seems that they were tracing cell phones and some of the e-mail action that happened through the Craigslist contact. Computer investigators can often get into such trails once they have some of the details and BU police participated in helping trace some of that activity.

Some members of the BU community are grimacing as they absorb the news of another medical school student charged with murder.

In 2001, fourth-year student Daniel Mason shot two men, killing one. Mason, unlike Markoff, had a prior conviction that school officials said they did not know about at the time.

The Mason case led to a lot of national attention — along with a few other cases around the country — that initiated the call for required criminal background checks for entering medical school students. Those background checks are now in place for Boston University.

This program aired on April 21, 2009.

Martha Bebinger Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.



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