Accused “Craigslist Killer” Philip Markoff was found dead at Nashua Street Jail yesterday morning, a plastic bag tied over his head, in an apparent suicide, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said today.
Another law-enforcement official said he had been found with a cut artery.
Markoff, 24, was alone in his cell when jail officials discovered his body one day after what would have been the one year anniversary of his wedding.
Markoff would have gone on trial in March, nearly two years after he allegedly killed Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old New York masseuse who traveled to Boston after placing an advertisement for her services on Craigslist.
"The family of Julissa Brisman is shocked and dismayed by the news of Phillip Markoff's suicide," according to a statement released by Djuna Perkins, the family's Boston-based lawyer. "Their grief for Julissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them. The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now he has taken that away as well."
Authorities have said that Markoff shot Brisman three times with a handgun on April 14, 2009 after they struggled in the doorway of her room on the 20th floor of the Marriott Copley in Boston. A bullet pierced her heart. Prosecutors said Markoff also battered her head.
Markoff was also charged with attacking two other women he met through the classified advertising website. His next court appearance was a hearing scheduled for mid-September, according to John Salsberg, Markoff's attorney.
“I’m shocked and saddened by the news,” said John Salsberg, Markoff’s attorney.
Salsberg declined to comment further.
Media surrounded the Nashua Street jail this afternoon and into the evening as prisoners held up signs to their windows commenting on Markoff's death.
One sign read, "I'm staying alive."
Another said, "All rapists should die."
Markoff had been placed on suicide watch shortly after his arrest nearly a week after the slaying.
In April 2009, Markoff was examined by medical staff at the jail and put in a special cell under camera surveillance after a correction officer saw marks on his neck that suggested he had tried to use shoelaces to hang himself, the Globe reported at the time.
In May, a prison official told the Globe that Markoff was no longer being segregated from other prisoners. He was acclimating well, playing chess with the other inmates, according to the official.
Police arrested Markoff, who was living in Quincy, on April 20, 2009 after stopping him on Interstate 95 in Walpole. Markoff told police he was headed to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. His fiancee, Megan McAllister, also was in the car.
Markoff and McAllister were driven to Boston in separate cars. He was held, while McAllister was released. In his arraignment the next day, Markoff pleaded not guilty to homicide and armed robbery charges.
Markoff and McAllister had been planning to marry in August 2009, but she called off the wedding.
Markoff, a former Boston University medical student, was also charged with armed robbery and kidnapping in two similar incidents in which the victims were not injured.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more