Philip Markoff, the suspected “Craigslist killer”, is being held without bail Tuesday, charged with murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Police say the 22-year-old killed one woman in a Boston hotel and robbed two others, one in Boston and one in Rhode Island.
He was arraigned in Boston on Tuesday afternoon.
Markoff is a far cry from the usual suspects, a medical student at Boston University, who also has a connection to the Capital Region; earning his undergraduate degree at UAlbany.
He has no prior criminal record and is also engaged to a woman he met while he was volunteering at Albany Medical Center.
His fiancée, Megan McAllister, is adamant that Boston police have arrested the wrong man.
She sent an e-mail to ABC News defending her future husband. The message McAllister sent had only six sentences.
The message reads:
“Unfortunately, you were given wrong information as was the public. All I have to say to you is Philip is a beautiful person inside and out and could not hurt a fly! A police officer in Boston (or many) is trying to make big bucks by selling this false story to the TV stations. What else is new?? Philip is an intelligent man who is just trying to live his life so if you could leave us alone we would greatly appreciate it. We expect to marry in August and share and wonderful, meaningful life together.”
According to Boston police, however, Markoff is no golden boy. He is accused of murdering Julissa Brisman and robbing another woman at gunpoint. Police say he met both women through their ads on Craigslist, where they offered massage services.
“It shows that Phillip Markoff is a man who is willing to take advantage of women,” said Suffolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney Dan Conley, “To hurt them, to beat them, to rob them. He probably thought he was going to get away with it. He thought he was too smart for us.”
Investigators now think Markoff may have committed the crimes to pay off gambling debts.
ABC News has learned Markoff drove to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut two days after he allegedly killed Brisman at the Boston Marriott Copley.
It is believed he gambled all night, until he left with $5300 in winnings.
It's also believed Markoff gambled at the same casino two days after he allegedly attacked and robbed another escort at the Westin Hotel in Boston.
Markoff had opened an account at the casino in 2008, but his visits to the casino increased this March and April.
Despit the allegations, his fiancée maintains his innocence and, in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America's Chris Cuomo, a neighbor of Markhoff's says he is the last guy anyone would ever suspect.
“I can't even put it into words the disbelief I'm feeling right now,” neighbor Jonathan Uva said.
In the town of Sherrill, New York, where Markoff grew up, people are stunned.
Markoff's parents still live in the town, which is midway between Syracuse and Utica. Markoff's old high school English teacher says she heard the news on Good Morning America Tuesday, and could not believe it was the same Philip Markoff.
“He was a bright student, friendly and polite,” said the teacher, Sonja Hluska, “he was like a teachers pet kind of boy.”
Hluska says Markoff would even mow the law for her.
Police, however, say the evidence is real. They traced Craigslist emails back to Markoff. Plus, they turned to hotel surveillance tape from the nights they say both crimes were committed, where a man resembling Markhoff can be seen walking around calmly and checking a Blackberry. They also found a gun, restraints and duct tape in Markoff's Quincy, Massachusetts apartment.
Investigators believe this case could be even bigger. Authorities are now investigating whether Markoff was involved in another Craigslist case, this one in Rhode Island, where a woman was held at gunpoint until her husband arrived and the suspect fled.
One of the first pieces of evidence in this case, were surveillance images of the suspect. Above is one of those surveillance pictures side-by-side with Markoff from Tuesday's court arraignment.
The surveillance picture was taken near the scene of the robbery in Rhode Island, which police suspect Markoff may have also committed. Police say the resemblance in the pictures only makes their case stronger.
Suffolk County D.A. Conley asked anyone who may have been a victim of Markoff to come foward, saying, “There is a possibility that Philip Markoff has done this before to other women.”
A website on Markoff and McAllister's upcoming wedding, which has since been pulled down, says the two met at the Albany Medical Center emergency room more than three years ago, and got engaged last May.
Before it was pulled, the guestbook page reached some 13,000 views by Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere on the internet, a section of Boston's Criagslist website has become a hub of conversation over Markoff. Topics on message boards there cover a range of things, including Markoff's pending case and the struggles his family now faces.
Other posts include an author looking for people who may have known Markoff or McAllister.