A former medical student who became known as the ‘Craigslist Killer’ has been found dead in his prison cell after apparently committing suicide.
Philip Markoff (24), accused of robbing and violently assaulting a string of prostitutes and killing an escort he met on the internet, was alone in his cell when guards found his body. Witnesses said a plastic bag had been tied over his head and that he was bleeding heavily from a cut artery.
“All evidence collected thus far suggests that he took his own life,” read the joint statement from police and prosecutors, who had been preparing for Markoff's trial later this year on charges of murdering Julissa Brisman (25), a masseuse, who was beaten around the head and shot twice at a posh Boston hotel.
Prosecutors claim that Markoff was responsible for that killing along with a string of other attacks on sex workers in and around Boston during April 2009.
He would allegedly meet victims after replying to advertisements for erotic services that they had placed on the internet site Craigslist.
In the wake of his arrest later that month, the San Francisco-based website came under intense political pressure to drop its “erotic services” adverts.
Critics claimed they were effectively creating a marketplace for illegal prostitution and sex-trafficking. The site later agreed to abolish the advertisements.
Markoff, a gambling addict who had run up huge debts at local casinos, is believed to have found the website to be a handy tool for his alleged crime spree. He would contact victims from fictitious emails, with the intention of using their services before beating them and taking their cash.
Public interest in the case was heightened by Markoff's blue-chip background.
From an ordinary suburban family, he had studied at Boston University School of Medicine.
Evidence of Markoff's guilt was compelling.
Police traced him via an IP address used to email one of the victims he is thought to have robbed and assaulted. When they searched the flat he shared with his fiancee, they found underwear belonging to two of the victims concealed in a DVD box of Grey's Anatomy, the medical drama.