Skip to main content
Philip Markoff

Philip Markoff

Biography
(1986–2010)
  • Publish date:
Philip Markoff answered a Craigslist ad for massage services, met a masseuse/former call girl and killed her, becoming known as the "Craigslist Killer."

Who Was Philip Markoff?

Philip Markoff was a second-year medical student at Boston University when he was arrested for the murder of masseuse and former call girl Julissa Brisman, who he met through a Craigslist ad. Markoff was then connected to two previous robberies, and, on August 15, 2010, law enforcement officials found Markoff dead in his jail cell after an apparent suicide.

Early Life

Born on February 12, 1986, in Sherrill, New York, Philip Haynes Markoff attended Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School, where he was on the bowling team, youth court and history club, and was a member of the National Honor Society. He is believed to be the son of a dentist and an educator-turned-casino worker.

Markoff attended the State University of New York, University at Albany, where he received a bachelor's degree in biology. It was there that he met fellow pre-med student Megan McAllister. She was a senior, and Markoff was a sophomore. The two became involved after they met during some volunteer work at a nearby medical center emergency room. Their first date was a few months later on November 11, 2005. The couple became engaged three years later, and their wedding was set for August 14, 2009, in Long Branch, New Jersey.

After their undergraduate studies, Markoff and McAllister moved to the Boston area to attend medical school at Boston University. They lived in Quincy, Massachusetts, in the High Point apartment complex.

'Craigslist Killer'

Markoff's idyllic plans came to a halt on April 20, 2009, however, when he was arrested during a traffic stop south of Boston. According to reports, Markoff and McAllister were headed to a local casino with several thousand dollars in cash. Markoff, who was under police surveillance for several days before the arrest, was accused of murder, armed robbery and kidnapping. He reportedly had no previous criminal record.

Scroll to Continue

READ NEXT

US actor Miles Teller poses during a photocall for the film "Too Old To Die Young - North of Hollywood, West of Hell" at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 18, 2019.

Miles Teller

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02:  Ranking member U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as he testifies at a hearing on receiving 'the Monetary Policy Report to the Congress required under the Humphrey-Hawkins Act' at the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Bernanke reportedly defended the Federal Reserves monetary policy against criticism from Republicans.  (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)

Barney Frank

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02:  Actor  Ben Whishaw attends the 48th New York Film Festival premiere of 'The Tempest' at Alice Tully Hall on October 2, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw

According to law officials, Markoff answered a Craigslist ad for massage services. He met 26-year-old masseuse and former call girl Julissa Brisman at the Copley Marriot on April 14, 2009. Brisman was found unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds at the hotel later that evening. She was transferred to Boston Medical Center, where she died from her injuries. Police say the confrontation between Brisman and her killer seemed to have begun as an attempted robbery, and ended when Brisman fought the zip tie restraints that bound her.

Surveillance videos from the hotel where Brisman was slain showed a tall, clean-cut, young blond man in a black windbreaker matching Markoff's description leaving the property. An electronic trail allegedly linked Markoff to another robbing of a second woman at the Westin Hotel in Boston. Cops say the previous attack occurred on April 10, 2009 when a 29-year-old woman advertising as an exotic dancer on Craigslist was attacked, bound, and robbed of both her debit card and $800 in cash. Police in Rhode Island also believe Markoff tried to rob a woman at a Holiday Inn that same month.

Arrest and Suicide

There is speculation that Markoff was attempting to pay several outstanding gambling debts, but this accusation has not been confirmed. Officials say when Boston University learned of the charges against Markoff, he was suspended. The accused was arraigned on murder charges on Tuesday, April 21, 2009. Markoff pleaded "not guilty."

After the hearing, police received a search warrant for Markoff's home. Officials say they found a semi-automatic weapon inside a hollowed-out copy of the medical textbook Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, duct tape and restraints in the suspect's apartment. The story took yet another twist when NBC News reported that Markoff also answered the Craigslist ad of a man seeking a transsexual hookup, and included photos of himself. The rendezvous never occurred, and the man contacted Boston cops when he compared news photos of Markoff to the shots on his computer.

Markoff's fiancée continued to stand by him, making a public statement declaring her enduring faithfulness to her betrothed. "I just can only hope that the criminal justice system will not be overwhelmed and persuaded by what is being put forth in the media," said McAllister. "My fiancée's fate should not rest in the court of public opinion, but rather in a court of law." McAllister left Markoff later that month, however, leading the prison system to place the suspect on suicide watch.

On August 15, 2010, law enforcement officials found Markoff dead in his jail cell, in Boston, Massachusetts, after an apparent suicide. Officials discovered his body exactly a day after what would have been the one-year anniversary of his canceled wedding. Markoff allegedly suffocated himself with a plastic bag, and severed one of his arteries. No suicide note was found at the scene.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!