Seven Days of Rage: The Craigslist Killer
Detail of a March 9, 1816 letter written in English by French emperor Napoleon the 1st is presented Sunday, June 10, 2012 in Fontainebleau, South of Paris, before being auctioned. The letter was sold euro 325 000, ($406 000). (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere) (Remy de la Mauviniere)
In Boston, police kept watch on the city's downtown core, determined to find the killer who was choosing his victims off Craigslist.
"If you had somebody targeting women in nice hotels, in a busy part of the city where a lot of tourists hang out, that was a huge concern for police," said Boston Globe reporter and "48 Hours" consultant Maria Cramer.
Then, just two days after Julissa Brisman's murder, the Craigslist Killer had found a new target 60 miles from Boston at a Holiday Inn in Warwick, R.I.
His victim was a stripper from Las Vegas who asked that we not use her real name. We'll refer to her as "Amber."
Amber would not do an on-camera interview, but did talk to authors Paul LaRosa and Maria
LaRosa said she was dancing at a local strip club in Providence. "She, according to authorities, goes there often with her husband. She dances at the Cadillac Lounge," added Cramer.
During her down time, Amber advertised on Craigslist, offering private lap dances in her hotel room.
"One of these people was a suspect who matched the description of the man who attacked the other two women in Boston," said Cramer.
"It was $200 for a lap dance. They didn't get into whether sex was going to be offered or not," said LaRosa.
For the third time in seven days, a woman willingly opened her door to this clean cut young man.
Amber turned around, and when she turned back to the man, she said he was pointing a gun at her.
"She said he was nervous and his hand was actually shaking, the gun hand," said LaRosa. "And he said, 'I'm broke. I don't want to kill you. I just need cards or money.' She said, 'I'll give you whatever you want,' and he immediately tied her up with these plastic handcuffs, laid her on the ground and started looking through her room."
Cramer said the suspect went after people that he could easily dominate.
"At that point," LaRosa continued, "her cell began to ring and the gunman got very nervous when the phone kept ringing and ringing. He said, 'Who's calling you? Why are they calling now?'"
The caller was Amber's husband and business manager. He was in the hotel lobby waiting for a signal from Amber that everything was OK. When he did not get it, LaRosa said he began calling and headed up to his wife's room.
"Suddenly, there was a man coming through the door, because her husband had the key to the room. He pointed the gun at Amber's husband. Amber's husband took off down the hall one way; the attacker took off the other way. Amber was able to jump up, and she elbowed the door shut."
The gunman escaped, although security cameras captured his image in the stairwell and lobby.
View Surveillance Photos
"How dumb is it to show your face to these people?" Van Sant asked Cramer.
"What we might think is stupidity, police are more inclined to call arrogance, a person who just thinks he's smarter than everybody else and didn't expect to be caught," she replied.
But over these seven days of rage, the Craigslist Killer made several crucial mistakes - showing his face to his victims and allowing his image to be captured by security cameras. But his biggest blunder was unwittingly handing investigators a road map to his front door.
"One of Julissa's friends found the e-mails between her and her 10 p.m. appointment, the man she met at 10 p.m. the night she died and then called the Boston police to tell them, 'I have these e-mails. That means I have his IP address," Cramer said.
An IP or Internet Protocol address is unique to each computer that sends e-mail.
Investigator Joe Moura said that was a huge break. "That was like leaving the gun at the scene with your fingerprints on the gun. It's the exact same thing."
The virtual IP address led detectives to an apartment in Quincy, a suburb just outside Boston, and specifically, to an apartment belonging to Philip Markoff.
For the first time, investigators could match a name to a suspect. They were shocked to discover the 23-year-old was a second-year medical student at Boston University.
LaRosa described Markoff as "a brilliant student. He has an uncommon mind."
"When they got Philip Markoff's name, they still weren't convinced, because they still didn't know what Philip Markoff looked like," Cramer said.
Officers from Boston's elite fugitive squad began an around-the-clock stakeout.
"[They were] waiting for somebody to come out that would look like the man in these video surveillance photos. When he did, they realized, 'OK, we're got somebody who looks a lot like these photos," said Cramer. "One sergeant basically called the investigators after watching him all day and said, 'I like him. I like him a lot.'"
It was now Sunday, April 19. Police observed the suspect, Philip Markoff, leaving his apartment with his fiancée, Megan McAllister.
"They watched as Megan was flirting with him, trying to cuddle with him," said Cramer. "He was a little standoffish, according to what they said."
But before cops brought him in for questioning, the district attorney wanted a positive ID. They reached out to the Craigslist Killer's first target, Trisha Leffler.
Tricia told "48 Hours Mystery," "I got a call that morning. It was the assistant DA in Boston, and she said, 'We have a photo lineup for you. Are you still in Boston? I said, "No, I'm in New York. I just left yesterday."
It was now one week after Julissa Brisman's murder and the methodical Craigslist investigation suddenly turned frantic. Markoff and his fiancée were on the move.
Cramer said the couple, who were seen leaving their apartment with a small suitcase and an over-the-shoulder knapsack, got into the car and headed south on Interstate 95.
They were heading to Foxwood's Casino in Connecticut. Boston authorities were intent on making sure Markoff did not set foot over the state line. The race was on, because once he crossed the state line, Markoff was out of the investigators' jurisdiction.
They had to make a quick decision. The Boston DA rushed a New York detective over to Trisha's Manhattan hotel room with a photo array that included Markoff.
"He said, 'OK, I'm going to show you the photographs. He basically just handed me a folder," said Tricia. "I opened the folder. And I went through them one by one. When I hit number five, I just started shaking. And I said, 'This is him.'"
"Boston police very excitedly got on the phone with the fugitive unit and said, 'Get him,'" said Cramer.
Back on I-95, police cars surrounded Markoff. Cramer said, "They pulled him over. They said, 'We have a warrant for this automobile and we need to take it back to Boston and you need to come with us."
Cramer told Van Sant that Markoff and McAllister had different reactions. "Megan was talking a lot. She was very vocal. Philip was very quiet, didn't ask any questions. It was at the police station Megan really began to ask a lot more questions; 'What's going on? What's happening?' Philip never really spoke at all. He immediately asked for a lawyer."
Police immediately informed him that he was under arrest for kidnapping, armed robbery and murder. When McAllister was told the news of Markoff's arrest, she broke down and cried. Detectives saw no reason to hold her; she was allowed to fly her parent's home in New Jersey while Markoff went off to jail.
"As soon as they told me they had him in custody, I just started crying. I was very, very happy," said Tricia Leffler. "It was like a weight had been lifted off my chest to know that he had finally been caught…and he can't hurt anybody else."
But with Philip Markoff in custody, the questions were only just beginning.
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