Saturday, 2:15 PM
Alleged 'Craigslist killer' recalled as a nice, smart boy
Philip Markoff as a teenager and as a boy.
By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff
SHERRILL, N.Y. -- On the quiet suburban street where he was raised, neighbors today said they were shocked that authorities had charged Philip Markoff as the Craigslist killer. They recalled Markoff as the well-behaved child of caring parents, a diligent student who excelled from elementary school through his days in the high school's National Honor Society.
"All of them were terrific people. It's unbelievable. I don't know, I don't have a bad thing to say about them," said Dorothy Guider, 53, who said she was friends with Markoff's mother, Susan Carroll, and his stepfather, Gary Carroll, when they lived in the neighborhood. "They were loving and caring people. They would do anything for anybody."
She described Markoff as "intelligent, very intelligent, sweet, nice."
"If he made a mistake Ė or who knows what happened? Ė it's just sad," she said.
The comfortable but not ostentatious middle-class neighborhood on Thurston Street consists of about 20 homes, Colonials with two-car garages built about 20 years ago. The Carrolls lived in the neighborhood until about four years ago, when they split up, neighbors said.
A man answering the door at Gary Carroll's house in another part of town declined to be interviewed. "I have nothing to say," he said softly. "I don't even want your card."
The executive director of the Oneida Community Mansion House, the apartment building where Markoff's mother lives in neighboring Oneida, said she was unavailable.
In Lafayette, N.Y., at the home of Richard Markoff, Philip Markoff's father, someone turned the light off on the porch and the front hall of the rambling two-story house after a reporter rang the bell.
Terry Law, another neighbor on Thurston, taught Markoff in first grade and remembered, "He was smart, very smart. Good at math and science."
"They found a semiautomatic, they said on TV today," Law said, glumly. "Oh God, he was a skinny, little towhead blond boy in my class," she said.
Sonja Hluska, 63, a neighbor whose kitchen windows look out onto Markoff's childhood home, taught him high school English.
"He was a good student and just a really nice, nice kid. He was one of my most polite students," she said. "Just a nice, clean-cut boy, smart, wanting to succeed. Mmmm ... No, nothing strange, nothing out of the ordinary."
Markoff's high school yearbook showed that he was an honors graduate who was in the history club and on the golf team. He also had been a member of the bowling team, according to other yearbooks.
He listed his future plans as "Major in pre-med at SUNY Albany." And he said his favorite saying came from a middle school shop teacher and was, "Go play in traffic."
In a section where seniors were allowed to leave their own personal messages, Markoff wrote, "I bequeath my poker playing skills to Andy Finley, so he won't lose his dad's house."
Markoff was apparently such a model student that he was a member of the school's Youth Court, in which students act as judges, lawyers, and jury members in court cases that arise in the school community. Students could go before Youth Court instead of Family Court, the yearbook said.
Chuck Osier, 58, of neighboring Vernon said his son Chris, a graduate student in chemistry at Syracuse University, had been Markoff's friend and teammate on the golf and bowling teams; and Markoff had been to his house numerous times.
"He seemed like any other kid to me for the most part, but if there was one thing -- because I'm a former high school teacher turned civil engineer ... at times, he could seem a bit withdrawn," Osier said.