Trisha Leffler says she was bound with a plastic cord and robbed at gunpoint at Boston hotel by the man accused of the Craigslist murder. She talks exclusively with 48 Hours Mystery.
Trisha Leffler, a Las Vegas masseuse who advertised her services on Craigslist, says she was bound with a plastic cord and robbed at a Boston hotel by Philip Markoff, the man later accused of the Craigslist killing. She talks exclusively with 48 Hours Mystery.
Read the complete transcript of the interview.
QUESTION: So, Tricia, if you could do the thing that we talked about. First, identify yourself, and what your relationship is in this case.
TRICIA LEFFLER: I am Trisha Leffler. I am the first victim robbed in the Phillip Markoff Craigslist murder case.
QUESTION: All right, so, Trisha, give me a little bit through - you live here in Las Vegas. And how did you end up in Boston, and how did you end up in a hotel room at all? How did this all come about?
LEFFLER: I went out there to work.
QUESTION: How did you end up meeting Philip Markoff? How did this -
LEFFLER: I had placed an ad on Craigslist. And he called my - I had my number on Craigslist. He called my number off of Craigslist. And asked me what, you know, what part of town I was in, what location I was in, and he'd like to come see me, and spend some time with me.
QUESTION: So, you decided to go to Boston. So, how was it that you and Philip ended up meeting?
LEFFLER: Like I said originally, I placed an ad on Craigslist. My number was on there. He ended up calling my number, and asking me basically what - where I was located at, and I gave him the location. And about 20 minutes later, he called me when he got to the Westin.
QUESTION: When you placed that ad on Craigslist, what did you say in the ad? What was it that you - what - you know?
LEFFLER: It basically went along the lines of, you know, if you'd like to come spend some time with a, you know, a blonde that you would like to -
QUESTION: So, what did you write in the ad? I mean, you obviously lived in Las Vegas. But did you say, "I'll be in Boston?" What did it say in the ad?
LEFFLER: It was just I was in Boston already, and that if you'd like to come spend some time with a sweet blonde, give me a call so we can spend some time together. That's basically the ins and outs of it.
QUESTION: The ad, obviously, if someone was on that ad, they would know what they were looking for?
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about the assumption was already there. He knew when he got there, what was the assumption that both you knew was gonna happen that night?
LEFFLER: He was just gonna pay me for my time.
QUESTION: How did you get to the hotel? Were you - was this something that he was arranging to pay for?
LEFFLER: No, not at all.
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about that. Like, what were the expectations from you and him, in terms of -
LEFFLER: I mean, I just - I was in the hotel room, and I just placed an ad on Craigslist. And, I mean, he called off my ad. I mean, that's - there wasn't any, anything like previously discussed or anything, from the time that he called me to the time that I met him. It was probably about a half hour, so.
QUESTION: Oh, so it was really quick?
QUESTION: So about a half-an-hour in time?
QUESTION: What was he like on the phone? What did he say to you? Was there ever talk about money?
LEFFLER: He just asked me how much it was for, you know. I have a half- hour rate, and an hour rate. He asked me how much it was for the half hour and the hour. And I told him it was $200 for the hour. He asked me, he said, "Okay, hour sounds fine." And then, about a half hour later, he called me when he got to the Westin.
QUESTION: And you basically said, "This is my room, you can come up?"
LEFFLER: No. He called me when he got to the Westin, and I met him by the elevator.
QUESTION: Do you do that for security purposes?
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about that. I mean, you have precautions in place.
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about that?
LEFFLER: Obviously, if I don't feel comfortable, then I'll just walk away from from the person. Yeah, I do it for security reasons. That way they don't know exactly what room number I'm in. I just tell 'em if I'm not comfortable, I just tell 'em, "No thanks."
QUESTION: You felt that he was safe?
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about that.
LEFFLER: I mean, his appearance was just - he was tall, a good looking guy. It, I mean, I felt - when I first laid eye - eyes on him, I was comfortable. Because it was, you know, just regular. Just a regular looking guy.
QUESTION: He felt like someone that you could trust in your room that night?
LEFFLER: Not really. Not really. It's not really a trust issue. It's kind of like a - I don't know what the word. Kind of like, you know, get to know the person a little bit. Come and, you know, spend some time with me. Let's get to know each other type of stuff, you know.
QUESTION: You didn't feel like you were in danger immediately with him?
LEFFLER: Not immediately, no.
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about. Tell me why you didn't feel like you were in danger?
LEFFLER: 'Cause, I mean, he looked regular to me. It - he didn't look like he had any other tendencies, other than just spend a little time and leave.
QUESTION: So, what does he say to you when he comes to meet?
LEFFLER: I just said, "Hi." He said, "Hi." And I said - I just motioned to him to follow me. And 'cause I really don't want to talk out in the hallway and, you know, whatnot. So, we went into the room. And as soon as I had closed the door, I had turned around, and he was standing just inside the door. And he pulled out the - when I turned around and looked at him, that's when he pulled out the gun.
QUESTION: What was going through your mind?
LEFFLER: I was a little nervous. Like, I immediately started shaking. Like, my heart started beatin' real fast. I started shaking.
QUESTION: What did he say to you?
LEFFLER: Told me to lie down on the ground.
QUESTION: What did you think was going to happen?
LEFFLER: I wasn't sure at that point.
QUESTION: What did he - what was he saying to you?
LEFFLER: He - he just told me to lay down, and I - I did. And then - he put the gun back in his pocket, once I laid down and stepped behind me. And he kneeled on the ground with one knee in the middle in between my legs, and told me to put my hands behind my back, which I did. And then - he tied me up one - one hand at a time.
QUESTION: And what is he saying to you?
LEFFLER: I was basically saying, you know, "You don't have to do all this. You don't - you don't have to tie me up. You know, I'll give you whatever you want. You don't have to tie me up." And he basically told me, "If you just be quiet, you know, no harm's gonna come to you."
QUESTION: Is he telling you he wants something at this point from you?
LEFFLER: No. As soon as he tied me up, he stepped back in front of me, and pulled out some black leather gloves, and put the black leather gloves on. And then, he asked me where my money was.
QUESTION: And what do you do? Do you - what do you - what are the instructions at that point?
LEFFLER: I told him they were in - in the - in my purse. And he walked over to - there was a desk in the room. I had my makeup case on the desk. And he picked it up. He says, "In here." I said, "No. My purse is in the top drawer of the entertainment center." And that's when he walked over and took the purse out of the entertainment center.
QUESTION: And he just took it? Took everything?
LEFFLER: No. He opened up my purse, and immediately went for the money. Took out the money, and put it in his pocket. And then, he knelt down on the floor, and was like kind of rifling through my purse and stuff. And he took out my wallet, and started going through my wallet. Like, taking each credit card out, asking me what kind of credit cards they were. I told him they were prepaid, there was no money on 'em.
Then he took out my bank card. He asked me what my pin number was on my bank card, and at that time, my adrenaline was rushing so much, I couldn't think of a lie. So, I gave him the pin number. He told me that, "That'd better be the pin number or I was gonna - there was gonna be a problem later." Whatever that meant. And then, after he took all the credit cards out and put them in his pocket, he then took my whole wallet and shoved it in his pocket. And then, at that moment, I realized that my ID was in the wallet. And I asked him if he could please leave me my ID so I could get home.
And he took it out and studied it for a good minute like he was memorizing my address. And then threw it down with all the rest of the stuff. And then, because I told him that the credit cards were pre-paid credit cards, I asked him if he could please leave me at least one of the credit cards, so I could also get home with, you know, with a credit card. And he said, "I thought you said there wasn't any money on 'em."
I said, "There's not. But I can have people, you know, put money on it so I can get home." He asked me which one I wanted - he wanted me to leave - or him to leave. And I said, "The one ending..." I gave him the one ending in - 7-6-4-9. Obviously, that was the one that he took, 'cause I think he thought there was money on there, 'cause that was the one that I pointed out. So, he gave me another one. And he threw that down, too. And then he had also picked up my camera at this point, and asked if there was - if this was my camera, and I said, "Yeah." But he had thrown that down at the time. He didn't take it right then.
QUESTION: Did he eventually take that?
LEFFLER: Yeah, he did. I didn't realize 'til about a day later.
QUESTION: Are you crying at this point? Are you -
LEFFLER: No, I mean, I'm still shaking, I'm still nervous. His demeanor's very - really was actually very calm. Like he had done it before. I mean, I'm not making presumptions. But he was actually very calm. He basically knew what to look for, that kind of stuff.
QUESTION: And you're as calm as you can be, considering?
LEFFLER: Yeah. At this point, I had asked him if I could sit up. So, I was actually sitting on the floor, with my hands tied behind my back.
QUESTION: What are you thinking at this point? Are you nervous that he was going to hurt you? Kill you?
LEFFLER: No, because I wasn't as nervous as before, 'cause he had actually put the gun away. When he got done going through my purse, he got up and asked me where the phone was that he had called me on. I said it was on the table. He picked it up and started going through it. And from - and - actually erased his number out of the call log.
QUESTION: Obviously, it's never permanently erased.
QUESTION: What did you, I mean, did you think of that at the time? That obviously the police could trace a call. I mean, were you thinking like, "This is silly?"
LEFFLER: I actually asking him if I could do it for him, because I just wanted him to leave. But he was like, "No, I'll - I'll take care of it. I got it."
QUESTION: Did you think that was an odd scenario for him to try to cover his tracks that way?
LEFFLER: Yeah. Like 'cause I'm - I mean, obviously he brought gloves. He knew how to erase his number from my phone. And then, to make sure that I didn't get to my phone right away, he turned it over, opened up the back of it, and actually took the battery, and threw it behind the entertainment center, so I couldn't get to it right away.
QUESTION: When you say he put away his gun, where did he put it away?
LEFFLER: He put it in his pants pocket.
QUESTION: So, he leaves. Walks out?
LEFFLER: Not yet.
QUESTION: What does he do?
LEFFLER: He started like looking around my room a little bit. The one thing that I thought was really weird that I didn't really say anything to him about is he walked over towards by where my suitcase was. And he picked up a pair of my underwear that were on the floor, and put them in his pocket.
QUESTION: What did you think of that?
TRISHA LEFFLER: I thought it was weird. Like, I didn't ask him what he was doing. Nothing, 'cause I didn't, you know, 'cause I didn't care to know. But it was just weird to me.
QUESTION: Did you ask him?
QUESTION: You just wanted him out?
LEFFLER: I just wanted him out. I wasn't trying to keep him there for anything longer. And then, eventually, he asked me if there was a safe in the room. I said, "Yes, but I haven't put anything in it." Of course he checked anyway. And then, he was kind of like walking around the room. And by this time, I was getting antsy, like I just wanted him to leave. So, I asked him what he was doing. 'Cause he was like going around, like trying to move, like furniture and stuff.
And I was like, "What are you doing." He's like, "I'm trying to find something to tie you to, 'cause I need more time to get away." And he's like, "Or should I just cut you loose." And I said, "Yeah, you can cut me loose, I'm not gonna tell anybody." And he's like, "I don't believe you." He's like, "I think I - I think I need to tie you to something so I can get more time to get away."
And so, I actually was like trying to suggest places for him to try to me, so he would just tie me up and leave. I asked him to tie me to the entertainment center door, 'cause there was a door that opened. He was like, "Oh, you can bust that right off." I was like, "I'm not that strong," you know. So, basically, he ended up tying to the bathroom door.
And then, as soon as he tied me to the bathroom door, he said, "Hold on a second," and he went back in the room. Where he went, I couldn't see, 'cause the line of vision was blocked. There was like a little wall or something there. But I heard a zipper on my suitcase. I don't know what he was doing. I didn't hear him like rustling around in my suitcase, but I just heard the zipper.
And then, he came back over and took something else out of his pocket. And he ended up taping my mouth. Putting three pieces of tape over my mouth. But I was noticing as he was doing it that he was not wearing gloves. So, I just let him put the tape on me. And also, at some point, during the robbery, he did cut both the phone lines in the room, so I wouldn't have a direct outlet right after he left. And he walked back into the room, just took one more look around, and then just walked out the door.
QUESTION: What did he tie you up with?
LEFFLER: He tied me up with some plastic zip cords.
QUESTION: You mean to the door?
QUESTION: They were long enough for him to do that?
QUESTION: When he walks out, what does he say to you?
LEFFLER: Nothing. He did, at one point, tell me that he would wait about 15 minutes after he had left the hotel and call security, and say that he had heard something come from the room, and asked me the room number. And I gave him - I gave him the room number. I mumbled it, 'cause my mouth was taped. But - and then, he just walked out the door.
QUESTION: Did you really think he was going to do that?
QUESTION: How did you get out?
LEFFLER: Within one minute of him leaving, I actually twisted right out of the ties. It hurt, but I twisted out of the ties, and like, took the tape off my mouth. And I crumbled up the tape, and threw it on the bed. And I waited for probably about a minute, and looked out into the hallway to just to make sure he wasn't standing out there, and then I went to the room next door, and knocked on the door, and asked if I could use their phone to call security, 'cause I had just been robbed.
QUESTION: So, security comes. The police come. Did you give them the tape with the fingerprints?
LEFFLER: It was, I mean, everything was in the room still. I had left the room, and I hadn't been back in there.
QUESTION: Do you know if they took the tape?
LEFFLER: They took - yeah, they took everything.
QUESTION: Describe what they took.
LEFFLER: They took the tape. They took the zip ties that were on the door. They took pictures of everything, obviously. And they took my cell phone.
QUESTION: Did they ever look into your Craigslist account to try to identify who he was?
LEFFLER: No, they didn't. Not that night, no. They didn't - no, they didn't look into my Craigslist account that night.
QUESTION: When did you find out who he was, in terms of this investigation?
LEFFLER: The day that he was arrested.
QUESTION: How did you find out that Philip Markoff was the person that was the same person that ended up murdering someone?
LEFFLER: I got a call on April 13 that my phone was going to be returned to me the next day, at about 10:30 in the morning. At 9:00, I got a call saying that they had to talk to me. It was very important that they talk to me, and where I was staying. I gave them the hotel. And then the room number. He said, "Okay, we'll be there in five minutes."
They showed up. And they gave me a piece of paper with a picture on it. And I said, "Ooh, this is a really good picture of him. Where did you get this." They said, "Is that guy that robbed you." I said, "Yes." They said, "How do you know." I said, "He's wearing the same exact clothes." I said, "Is this from the surveillance from the same night."
And they said, "No. That's actually from the Marriott." And I kind of looked at him funny. And he was like, "There was a girl murdered there last night, and we think this is the same guy. He's used the same M.O. She was tied up with plastic zip cords." And my heart just dropped.
QUESTION: Did you think that you could've died that night?
QUESTION: What was going through your head when you heard that?
LEFFLER: That it could've been me. That had - I mean, he could've killed me that night.
QUESTION: What were you thinking. I mean, what was going through your head at that time? What was swirling?
LEFFLER: That it was, well, I was in this even deeper now than just me being robbed. It was now a murder investigation, and that I was right in the middle of it.
QUESTION: Were you at all scared?
LEFFLER: I got really scared. Yeah.
QUESTION: What kinds of things were the police now - were they helpful?
LEFFLER: Yes. Very. They were just like, you know, "We really do need you in order for us to catch this guy now." And I said, "Whatever you need."
QUESTION: So, you saw security photos. What kind of things did you see on the security photos?
LEFFLER: I'd seen him the way he was dressed. When he robbed me, he was in a black leather coat, dark jeans, with a tan shirt underneath. And about 6'2", blonde hair. And, of course, you can't see his eyes in the surveillance, but I knew they were light-colored eyes. And they asked me if I knew how old he was. And I really thought he was upper 20s. But obviously, he's 22, so.
QUESTION: The night that he had pulled out the gun, did you at all think that night that you could die?
LEFFLER: I was just so wrapped up in trying to comply with everything that he said to not think about it. I was trying to not think about me being hurt, harmed.
QUESTION: Did you think that night that you could die?
TRISHA LEFFLER: To tell you the truth, it wasn't really a thought at the time. I thought he would - you know, I had a feeling he was just there for the money. He just wanted the money, and to get out. 'Cause as soon as he pulled the gun, he had put it away, I didn't see it the rest of the time.
QUESTION: The night that he was attacking you, did you think when he pulled out that gun, I mean, obviously been attacked with a gun before. Did you think that, "I'm facing death here?"
LEFFLER: I mean, truthfully, no. Like, it was just like I got scared, obviously, 'cause he had a gun. But in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "Oh, it's not loaded," you know. It's a toy, you know. Stuff like that. Just something to scare me. Like, he just wants my money and to get out. Like never once did he touch me, other than to tie me up, and then to tie me to the doorknob. He was very calm. He didn't tell me to shut up, he told me to be quiet, you know. I guess you could call him polite. Didn't call me names and swear at me. Nothing.
QUESTION: It only dawned on you later that -
LEFFLER: Yeah, when the other girl got killed, yes.
QUESTION: Tell me that in a full sentence. What dawned on you later?
LEFFLER: It dawned on me later that he could have very well killed me.
QUESTION: When you saw the surveillance photos, how sure where you that it was Philip Markoff?
LEFFLER: I was - I was 100 percent sure.
QUESTION: How 100 percent sure were you that it was the same person? Tell me how sure you were that it was the same person?
LEFFLER: I was 100 percent sure. Well, obviously, the first photo that they showed me, I actually thought it was from the Westin the night that I got robbed. They didn't tell me beforehand that, you know, it was from different surveillance from another hotel. I thought maybe they had gotten another clearer picture. So, I mean, I was 100 percent sure it was the same guy. He was even dressed the same, wearing the same clothes.
QUESTION: When did you start finding out who he was, his background? Did the police start telling you about that, or did you only start reading about it in the media?
LEFFLER: I only started reading about it in the media, after he was actually arrested.
QUESTION: What did you think about it?
LEFFLER: Well, I just don't understand how somebody that is obviously smart, has his own life ahead of him, has a beautiful fiancée, you know, getting married, gonna have, you know live the life, could do something like this.
QUESTION: Obviously, you know, you're reading about him. About this. He was in medical school, he seemed to have all these things going for him. Does it seem like the guy that came to your room that night?
LEFFLER: Yes and no. I mean, yes, because I know what he looks like. No, because I didn't know anything about him, characteristic type, nothing. When he called me, I did ask him what he did for a living, and he actually told me he was a student. He didn't tell me what type of a student, but he said he was a student.
QUESTION: Did he raise his voice to you? You said he was very - I mean, he, he wasn't nasty to you?
LEFFLER: He did not raise his voice to me. I kept asking him, "Can I say something, can I say something," he just kept telling me to be quiet. He didn't want to hear anything. He just wanted to, I think he just wanted to get what he wanted, and get out.
QUESTION: But he didn't curse at you, he wasn't violent?
LEFFLER: No, not at all.
QUESTION: Describe that a little bit for me. Describe his demeanor to me?
LEFFLER: I mean, he was calm. He, to me, it felt like he knew what he was doing.
QUESTION: When you started reading about him, did you have any kind of reaction about who he was, and what brought him to you? Or what would drive him to kill another woman?
LEFFLER: I mean, I can't get inside his head. But, I mean, it's just - it's just disbelief that just someone who had their whole life set out for him, and whole life ahead of him that could even fathom to do something like this. As far as - I mean, I don't know if he thinks that by targeting girls on Craigslist that somebody's not gonna come forward. But I feel that if I wouldn't have come forward, he'd still be on the streets.
QUESTION: And you did come forward immediately?
QUESTION: I mean, you gave a police report. You had no problem identifying who he was. But he might have still been out there, if someone wasn't killed, don't you think? I mean, do you have any speculation about that?
LEFFLER: I had a good possibility that they were working on the case before she had gotten murdered. 'Cause they were working with me on the case before that happened.
QUESTION: So, you think he would've been caught?
QUESTION: So, you think the police took your case seriously?
QUESTION: Tell me a little bit about why you felt that the police took it?
LEFFLER: The next day after, after the robbery, they did - they had me down at the police station, looking at photos already, and going through phone numbers in my phone, calling my bank to see if my bank card had been used. And also, calling my phone company to see if I could get the phone records.
QUESTION: You were clearly the victim in this case, but obviously you've learned some important things from all this. Do you have a warning out there for anyone? Or anything you'd want to say?
LEFFLER: Just, I mean, trust your instincts. Obviously, my instinct was this guy was good. But not all money's good money.
QUESTION: I mean, you had a lot of precautions in place. You had a system down, you knew that you had indicators. You had alert signs that you - you took that - would send off signals whether someone could be trusted or not. Philip Markoff kind of met those initial signals. I mean, he didn't - it didn't work this time. Is there something that can be said for that, or not really?
LEFFLER: Not really at this point. I mean, other girls that are on Craigslist, I mean, we all have our own screening process. I mean, obviously, some people need to be screened a little bit more than others, so.
QUESTION: Anything else that you think is really important for you to say? Is there anything else you really want to get across? I mean, this is your time.
LEFFLER: Basically, I just want to say that. I mean, I'm glad that he's behind bars, and I'm glad that I came forward with my story because I feel that if I didn't, he would still be out there possibly hurting other people. And it might have escalated into more than just what it did. And just I'm gonna be there to help through the whole thing.
QUESTION: And they just want me to ask one last question. In your words, how would you describe what you do for a living. And what you were anticipating happening that night in your words?
LEFFLER: It was just to put - I don't - I don't feel comfortable answering that question.
QUESTION: What are your plans with your Craigslist ad, and what's happening with your Craigslist ad right now?
LEFFLER: Nothing. I'm not gonna be advertising on Craigslist anymore. Don't want to go through this again.
QUESTION: What do you want to do now for a living?
LEFFLER: I don't know. Probably going to go back to school.
QUESTION: What would you like to do?
LEFFLER: No idea yet.
QUESTION: Do you have aspirations to do something in the future?
LEFFLER: I don't know. I'm kind of taking it one day at a time right now.
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