A happily engaged Boston medical student who investigators claim is the "Craigslist Killer" was charged with murder and held without bail Tuesday after he allegedly shot a budding actress and bashed her head in in a Boston hotel room.
Prosecutors said they'd found a semiautomatic weapon, ammunition, duct tape and restraints at the home of 23-year-old Boston University student Philip Markoff, accused of killing Julissa Brisman, 26, and attacking two other women.
Brisman, a hopeful New York actress, was allegedly lured to Markoff's room at the Marriott Copley Place April 14 after he answered her ad for an erotic massage on Craigslist.
He's also accused in two other attacks, one in Boston and another in Warwick, R.I., both of which stemmed from Craigslist ads placed by women offering exotic services, police said.
With hands and feet bound by chains, Markoff said nothing in his first court appearance. He wore khakis and a wrinkled Oxford shirt, sitting in silence as he was read the charges, including murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. He was then ordered directly to jail.
Investigators said they think gambling debts might be behind Markoff's alleged crime spree. Markoff is a known gambler and police are trying to establish a possible link between debt and his alleged robbery spree, sources told the Boston Herald.
He was on the way to Foxwoods Casino with his fiancee when he was arrested, officials said.
In August, Markoff is scheduled to marry Megan McAllister, who sent an e-mail into ABC's "Good Morning America" in defense of her fiance. In the e-mail that was read on air, McAllister called Markoff "a beautiful person inside and out," adding that he "could not hurt a fly."
Details emerged Tuesday about the young couple's wedding plans, a lavish August affair scheduled for the waterfront McLoone's Pier House in Long Branch, NJ. Guests are planning to stay at the Sheraton Eatontown Hotel just down the road.
Officials believe the restraints they found in Markoff's Quincy, Mass., home were the same as those used to bind Brisman and the other victims of the "Craigslist Killer." Prosecutors also traced cell phone and e-mail records of Markoff's that connected him with the women he reportedly attacked.
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said the weapon and duct tape found in Markoff's home are examples of "critical, powerful" evidence against the baby-faced 23-year-old.
"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," Conley said. "He probably thought he was going to get away with it. He thought he was too smart for us."
Conley also said that Brisman fought tooth and nail for her life.
"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," he said.
Friends of Markoff, a SUNY Albany grad attending a pre-med program at Boston University, were stunned at the accusations.
"I can't even put it into words, the disbelief I'm feeling right now," neighbor Jonathan Uva said. "This is a great guy. I lived right next door to him, and I would never have expected this. We thought they were just regular guys ... just our neighbors, like anyone else."
Neighbors also expressed shock at Markoff's suspected identity as the "Craigslist Killer."
"He was smart, he carried himself well, he was clean, a good looking guy," said Markoff's Quincy neighbor Michael Bernard, a retired electric company worker who saw Markoff in court on TV. "He seemed like the type that would have it all. It doesn't make sense."