Charges conflict with portrait of clean-cut student

By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / April 21, 2009

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He's the picture of pride in a photo that seems to capture the excitement of a young man on the cusp of a medical career. Grinning broadly, he stands with fellow medical students at a ceremony at Boston University Medical School, as a doctor helps him into the white coat that will mark the beginning of his formal training.

To many of his friends, the photo encapsulates the image they had of Philip H. Markoff: clean-cut, friendly, smart. Yesterday, those friends were broadsided by a shockingly different description of their friend, as the fugitive "predator" police had sought in the fatal shooting of a 26-year-old woman he had allegedly contacted on the "erotic services" section of Craigslist. He was also charged with attacking a second woman in Boston, whom he had also allegedly contacted off Craigslist and is a suspect in the attempted robbery of a prostitute in Rhode Island.

Markoff, 23, is from upstate New York and is a 2007 graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. He was engaged to be married in August to Megan McAllister, a fellow SUNY student whom he met while volunteering in an emergency room in Albany in September 2005, according to the couple's wedding website.

The elaborate website depicts a happy couple eagerly anticipating their nuptials, with a countdown to the date, a photo of them smiling as he holds her, and a description of how they met "pushing stretchers down hallways and bringing blood and urine samples to pathology together before our first date on November 11, 2005!!"

One Boston University medical school colleague yesterday recalled meeting Markoff at orientation in 2007 and studying anatomy with him more recently. She said "he seemed like a nice guy, and he was a helpful, smart kid."

"I would assume they have the wrong person; that's how shocked I am," said the student, who asked that her name not be published. "He seemed to kind of get things. . . . I kind of had him pegged as a surgeon because he was good at anatomy."

The images of Markoff as a medical student and doting fiancé contrasted sharply with the grainy police surveillance photos released since the April 14 slaying of Julissa Brisman, allegedly showing a man walking calmly from the scene of the attacks, apparently sending a text message.

"He seemed like a clean-cut guy," said John Uva, 24, who lived next door to Markoff's third-floor apartment in Quincy, which was swarmed by police officers last night. "It's definitely unnerving."

Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Levenson can be reached at

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