Saturday, 2:15 PM
Investigators seek more victims -- through Craigslist
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
Investigators are reaching out through cyberspace to try to find other women who they believe may have been victimized by Philip Markoff, turning to the same website he allegedly used: Craigslist.
Investigators posted an item on the "erotic services" section of the classified ad website this afternoon asking, "Were You Robbed After Using Craigslist?"
"Were you attacked or robbed at a Boston-area hotel after placing or answering an ad on Craigslist? If so, you may have information that could be helpful to police and prosecutors investigating the April 10 armed robbery of a woman at the Westin Copley Place Hotel and the April 14 murder of a woman at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel," the ad read.
The ad said said that investigators believed that both women were attacked by a man "targeting female Craigslist advertisers who would be reluctant to report the crimes."
Investigators posted the ad as Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster acknowledged that "more must be done" by the company to eliminate illegal activity on its website.
The ad did not name Markoff, who has been charged with attacking one woman and murdering another after meeting them at the Boston hotels through Craigslist.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley earlier today reiterated his call for other victims to step forward, saying they should not fear prosecution.
“There may not be any other victims,” Conley said in a statement. “But if there are, and if they were initially reluctant to contact investigators for fear that they might be prosecuted, we want to reassure them that our top priority is to hold the assailant – and not his victims – accountable in a court of law.”
Markoff is charged with murder in the slaying of 25-year-old Julissa Brisman at the Marriott. He faces charges of armed robbery and kidnapping in the Westin case. He was arrested Monday. After his arraignment Tuesday, he was ordered held without bail. He has been placed on suicide watch at the Suffolk County jail, a law enforcement official told the Globe this afternoon.
The case featuring Markoff, a clean-cut Boston University medical student, has drawn widespread media coverage and cast a spotlight on the vast underworld of sex-related services offered on the site.
Conley said anyone who was robbed or assaulted by a man responding to an on-line posting should contact Boston Police homicide detectives at 617-343-4470, call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS, or text the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).
Supporters of Markoff, meanwhile, have set up a Facebook website titled, "Phil Markoff is Innocent Until Proven Guilty."
The site says its goal is to rally people "against the media who is quick to place blame, against the culture that has forgotten that people like Phil are suspects, not killers."
The site had 35 members as of midafternoon today, including several members of the media who were apparently seeking to reach out to Markoff supporters. The administrator, who was listed as Andrew "Boter" Hookway, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
The site also included 28 "wall postings," with some people saying that they knew Markoff and he should be considered innocent until proven guilty and others decrying the media coverage of the case and some reporters (including one from The Boston Globe) posting messages seeking people to interview.
Some people signed onto the site to say that they believed Markoff was guilty. "Guuuilty!" wrote one.
Hookway said in his own posting that he was contemplating disabling the wall so he didn't have to devote as much time to moderating it.