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"Craigslist Killer" Suicide: Sheriff Defends Jail Policies in Death of Philip Markoff

Boston University medical student Philip Markoff stands during his arraignment in Boston Municipal Court, Tuesday, April 21, 2009, in Boston. Markoff has been ordered held without bail on charges that he fatally shot a masseuse he had lured to his hotel through Craigslist. (AP Photo/Mark Garfinkel, Pool) AP Photo/Mark Garfinkel

"Craigslist Killer" Philip Markoff Suicide: Sheriff Defends Jail Policies
Philip Markoff April 21, 2009, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mark Garfinkel, Pool)

BOSTON (CBS/AP) The only person ultimately responsible for the suicide of Philip Markoff, the man suspected of being the "Craigslist Killer," is Markoff himself, according to Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral who held a press conference Thursday to defend the policies of Nashua Street jail where Markoff died.

Cabral said inmates find ingenious ways to make weapons, such as using hard candy and magazines to inflict injuries.

"There is no way that you can build or run a correctional institution and have everything permanently affixed to a rock-solid structure that can't be broken," she said. "If it were possible you would essentially have to build the place out of Styrofoam, and even then you would still have an issue."

Markoff reportedly killed himself with a makeshift scalpel made from a ball point pen and a piece of metal that he had sharpened to a point. Authorities said Markoff cut himself on the arms, wrist and ankles before severing his carotid artery and putting a plastic bag over his head.

Cabral would not confirm how many times Markoff was checked on that night but did say that the standard practice for the general population is to check on individual inmates every 30 minutes, or every 15 minutes for those on suicide watch.

Markoff had been placed on suicide watch for several weeks after his arrest in April of 2009, but since then had given corrections officials no indication that he was considering suicide. He killed himself one day after what would have been his one year wedding anniversary.

Markoff was in jail awaiting trial in the 2009 killing of Julissa Brisman, of New York City. Brisman, 26, was beaten with a gun and shot three times at a Boston hotel in April 2009. Authorities alleged Markoff lured her there after connecting with her on Craigslist, and killed her during a botched robbery to support his gambling habit.

Cabral was also asked about photos of the jail cell that were broadcast on a local TV station, but would only say that an investigation is being conducted to find out how those pictures got out. She said that investigators would be reviewing surveillance tapes to determine who had taken the pictures.

The pictures showed a makeshift shrine to Markoff's ex-fiancee, Megan McAllister, as well as her name written in blood on the cell wall along with the word "pocket." There were also pictures of a crumpled plastic bag, assumed to be the one Markoff placed over his head, as well as a picture of the "scalpel" he apparently used to inflict the fatal wounds.

Markoff was also charged with robbing one other woman in Boston and another in Las Vegas. Prosecutors say he met all three of his victims on Craigslist. The trial for the Massachusetts charges was set to begin in March 2011.

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  • Carlin Miller

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