Craigslist slaying suspect’s former med school lab partner says he was “strange in a dark way”By AP
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Lab partner: Craigslist suspect seemed disturbed
BOSTON — A former medical school lab partner of accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff says she’s not surprised that he’s a suspect in the case because he had profound mood swings and often appeared “disturbed.”
Tiffany Montgomery tells The Boston Globe that she was often alarmed at Markoff’s mood swings. She says he’d appear warm and friendly one day, then be brooding and depressed the next day. She says she was so troubled that she considered alerting school counselors that he might be suicidal.
Montgomery says even though they spent hours together in the lab while students at Boston University School of Medicine, they never became close.
She says he spoke only when someone else initiated a conversation, and although he seemed nice, he was also “strange in a dark way.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
BOSTON (AP) — The fiancee of accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff stood by her man and swore he couldn’t hurt a fly.
And she should know: The two met in 2005 while volunteering at a medical center and became engaged three years later. They share an upscale apartment just south of Boston while awaiting their Aug. 14 nuptials on a beach at sunset.
But authorities say his computer and surveillance video paint a picture of a suspected serial criminal who targeted women offering erotic services through Craigslist. Now he’s accused of killing one and suspected of robbing and tying up another. And police have said there could be more victims.
“This was a brutal, vicious crime — savage, and it shows Philip Markoff is a man who is willing to take advantage of women, to hurt them, to beat them, to rob them,” District Attorney Daniel Conley said Tuesday. “He probably thought he was going to get away with it. He thought he was too smart for us.”
Police also say they found a semiautomatic weapon, duct tape and restraints — what prosecutors called “critical, powerful” evidence — in the couple’s Quincy apartment.
Authorities refused to comment on reports that Markoff might have been seeking money to pay gambling debts, but a Connecticut casino confirmed it was cooperating in the investigation.
Markoff, a second-year medical student at Boston University, appeared in court Tuesday on charges including murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Dressed in a wrinkled button-down shirt and khakis, he said nothing during the brief hearing and was jailed without bail.
Defense attorney John Salsberg said later that Markoff is not guilty of the charges and “has his family’s support.”
Markoff is accused in the death of Julissa Brisman of New York City, who was found dead April 14 in a Boston hotel after being bashed in the head and shot three times.
Brisman, 26, was an aspiring model and actress who had advertised erotic massage on Craigslist. Authorities said she and Markoff communicated through e-mail and cell phone to set up a meeting.
Investigators traced an e-mail to Markoff, who created a new address the day before Brisman’s body was discovered at the Marriott Copley Hotel. He was arrested Monday in Walpole, less than 20 miles southwest of Boston, as he drove with his fiancee to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
Authorities say he was the man seen on surveillance video near where Brisman was found and where a woman was robbed in Rhode Island.
Boston police refused to comment on reports citing unidentified law enforcement sources that Markoff was a problem gambler. But the casino said it was helping investigators.
“We do not release information publicly concerning individual patrons; however, we are aware of this situation and are cooperating with the appropriate law enforcement authorities,” the casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation said in a statement.
Markoff’s grandfather, Jerome Markoff, a lawyer from Arnold, Md., said he was shocked.
“This is not my grandson. I know my grandson,” he told The Boston Globe. “I hate to see a rush to judgment … He’s a wonderful boy, just absolutely wonderful, and couldn’t be better. I’m proud of him and proud of his abilities as a medical student. He always wanted to be a doctor.”
Markoff’s grandfather did not immediately respond to a call from The Associated Press. Police said his grandson has no prior criminal record.
Markoff is also suspected in the attempted robbery Thursday in Warwick, R.I., of a stripper who had posted an ad on Craigslist. She was held at gunpoint before her husband entered the room and her attacker fled.
Markoff’s mother, Susan Haynes, declined to comment through a receptionist at her apartment complex in Sherrill, N.Y., where Markoff went to high school. In the 2004 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School yearbook, Markoff was listed as a member of the bowling and golf teams, the National Honor Society, history club and youth court.
He graduated in 2007 from the State University of New York at Albany. Later that year, he had a broad smile in a photograph taken as he put on a “white coat” at a ceremony for incoming BU medical school students.
The university has said Markoff was suspended immediately following his arrest.
“I can’t even put it into words, the disbelief I’m feeling right now,” neighbor Jonathan Uva said. “This is a great guy … just a total disconnect from what we’re hearing in the news.”
According to the couple’s Web site, Markoff and his fiancee met in 2005 while volunteering at a medical center near SUNY Albany, and they were engaged in May 2008. They had planned a lavish beachfront wedding in Long Branch, N.J. The couple also had registered for kitchen goods and housewares from Pottery Barn, Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma.
Conley, the district attorney, said he believes Markoff’s original motive was robbery, but he wound up killing Brisman when she fought back.
Prosecutor Jennifer Hickman said in court that Brisman had been bashed in the head and shot three times at close range, including once through the heart.
“It’s hard for me to get into his mind. The evidence that we have is Julissa put up a pretty tough struggle, and it’s in the context of that struggle that she lost her life,” Conley said.
The slain woman’s father, Hector Brisman, appeared in court but left without commenting.
Hickman said Markoff also contacted the woman he allegedly robbed using Craigslist on April 10 and set up a meeting after midnight. The woman told investigators she met Markoff and then let him into her room at the Westin Copley in Boston. When she shut the door and turned around, he was pointing a gun at her stomach. He bound her hands and mouth.
He then stole more than $800 and personal items, Hickman said.
His fiancee, Megan McAllister, insists police have the wrong man.
“He could not hurt a fly,” McAllister said in an e-mail to ABC’s “Good Morning America. “All I have to say is Philip is a beautiful person, inside and out.”
An e-mail message sent to McAllister via her Facebook page was not immediately returned Tuesday. The McAllister family did not answer the door of their Little Silver, N.J., home Tuesday. Shortly after, a police officer emerged and said the family did not wish to speak with reporters.
Michael Bernard, who lives in Markoff’s building in Quincy, was shocked to recognize his neighbor on television reports of the killing.
“He was smart. He carried himself well. He was clean, a good-looking guy,” said Bernard, a retired electric company worker. “He seemed like the type that would have it all. It doesn’t make sense.”
Associated Press writers Mark Pratt and Russell Contreras in Boston; Eric Tucker and Hilary Russ in Providence, R.I.; William Kates in Sherrill, N.Y., and Wayne Parry in Little Silver, N.J., contributed to this report.
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