The Craigslist Killer: Seven Days of Rage
Philip Markoff (CBS)
"This is the sort of person you would never expect to be involved in these sorts of crimes. And he counted on that," said Casey Jordan, an attorney and a psychologist who specializes in criminal behavior. "He presented a virtual identity to society which everyone could buy into - the guy next door, tall and blond and handsome, a medical student engaged to a beautiful girl.
So the last thing his friends expected was his arrest.
"It was shocking. I went into shock," said Morgan Houston, Markoff's friend and study partner at State University of New York at Albany where they were both pre-med.
"He was dorky, but so many of us are. I mean, I can be a big dork too."
He might have been a dork, but Markoff was also a star student.
Morgan told "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger that Markoff loved what he was studying. "He was so worried about getting into the top schools. And I would say to him, 'Phil, you have a great GPA. You're gonna be fine.'"
In fact, he finished college in just three years, graduated summa cum laude and was accepted to medical school at top-ranked Boston University.
By 2009, Markoff was a second-year medical student and was planning a wedding to Megan McAllister, his college girlfriend.
It was supposed to be a lavish sunset ceremony at a beach resort in New Jersey. Instead, Markoff ended up in jail and McAllister was holed up at her parents' house in Little Silver, New Jersey. The press pursued her, but she stayed mostly out of sight.
Still, McAllister, who had been dating Markoff for three years, came quickly to his defense after his arrest, writing reporters, "This is not the Philip Markoff that I know ... Philip is a beautiful man inside and out and would not hurt a fly."
McAllister's father, Jim, spoke to reporters in front of the family home two days after Markoff's arrest, telling them, "She's still confident in Phil....but other than that, we're saying a lot of prayers."
Police were making it more difficult for people to remain confident in Markoff. They said they found the gun that killed Julissa Brisman in Markoff's apartment. The gun was hidden inside a hollowed-out book - a copy of "Gray's Anatomy" - the basic reference for all doctors and medical students.
Hollowing out "Gray's Anatomy"
"They found the gun in a book. That, in itself, doesn't mean he's guilty, but clearly the gun is the big thing," said private investigator Joe Moura. "If they show that that gun was the gun that was involved in the shooting, you gotta case-closed situation. See you later. He's gone."
The gun wasn't all the police found.
"The Boston detective called me from his apartment he said, 'We did find both pairs of your underwear,' said Tricia Leffler.
Police report finding two more pairs of women's underwear hidden under Markoff's mattress, but they haven't said who they belonged to. If Markoff was keeping underwear from his victims as trophies, it was beginning to look like these were more than just simple robberies gone wrong.
"It wasn't just about the money," according to Jordan. "It was, 'If I'm gonna get the money, how can I get it and fulfill this personal need for thrill?'"
Jordan thinks Markoff gets his thrills from a frightening mixture of power, sex and control.
And one night back in college, after more than a few drinks, Morgan Houston may have caught a glimpse of Philip Markoff's desire for thrill seeking.
"Going up into the tower where I live, he cornered me and pushed me up against the wall and was trying to kiss me," she told Schlesinger. "And I was saying, 'No, Phil. You know, we're just friends. What are you trying to do?' And I was trying to push him away. And he was being forceful, and I physically couldn't get him off of me. Thankfully, one of my very close friends had come along and he was able to pull him off of me. I was able to escape upstairs."
Houston said being in that situation scared her.
"I had no control... He wasn't listening to me when I was saying no."
When asked if Markoff ever apologized to her, Houston replied, "No, I'm not sure he ever mentioned it... It was awkward. I just wanted to forget about it. It wasn't the Phil I knew... I chalked it up to the alcohol."
Maybe it was the alcohol. Or maybe it was a hint of what the real Phillip Markoff was like.
The day after Markoff's arrest, a report surfaced that he had traded e-mails with a transvestite advertising on Craigslist.
"It appeared that he was interested in homosexual sadomasochism, and he was interested in being the submissive partner," according to Steve Huff, a crime blogger and a contributor to the True Crime Report.
Following up on the e-mail address Markoff reportedly used - "sexaddict5385"- Huff said he made a startling discovery. "I received a tip that, if you added another '8' to that address, there were secondary profiles that nobody knew about yet."
One of the profiles Huff found for "sexaddict53885," believed to be Markoff, was on Alt.com - a personals Web site for the very adventurous. It lists among his interests: chains, collars, leashes and experimentation with transvestites.
"Everybody answers questions on these profiles," according to Huff. "One of them was, 'How often do you think of these things?' And he answered, 'All the time.'"
And it's not an isolated entry. It looks like Markoff was all over the Internet. Huff said Markoff also had profiles on gayclublist.com, passion.com, extremerestraints.com.
When asked how certain he is that the profiles are Markoff's, Huff replied, "All the evidence points to him. The person posting had the same birth date as Markoff. Of course, he had the similar handles, the sexaddict handle. Also, the date that the profile had been published was about two years ago. It's hard to fake that."
There's also this: Boston police confirmed a torso photo featured on Alt.com was found on Markoff's laptop. The secret profiles and his alleged solicitation of a transvestite suggest to psychologist Casey Jordan that Markoff's public persona was at war with his deeper desires.
"He really did have this other double life," she said. "Now that, In and of itself, doesn't cause people to rob or to kill. But what it does is very often cause, what we call in criminology, a fractured identity. That conflict can actually result in violence."
Police say in February 2009, Markoff used a fake ID to buy a gun in New Hampshire, the same gun they report finding in his apartment.
"He bought the gun several months before he started doing this. What does that tell you about him?" Schlesinger asked Jordan.
"Very often, there's a trajectory to these crimes. I mean, it's mostly myth that people one day just wake up and decide to become a criminal and snap," she replied. "So buy the gun, handle the gun. Put the gun inside the book. Time passes, nobody looks inside the 'Gray's Anatomy.' 'Look what I can do.' That's part of the thrill. 'Everyone thinks I'm a brilliant medical student, but I have everybody snowed."
Hollowing out "Gray's Anatomy"
And Jordan said that may have been why the young medical student was ready to strike again, just two days after killing Julissa Brisman.
"He wasn't afraid of killing at this point. He had the gun. He was willing to use it and he was willing to go back into a similar situation within days of his last violent encounter," she said. "At some level, the thrill of tying these women up, robbing them - even killing one, was evolving within him and turning him into somebody that he liked."
In fact, as the final chapter unfolds, Markoff shows everyone just how violent he could be.
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