Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boston police wants investigation into "Craigslist Killer" suicide

A top Hub official is calling for an independent probe into how alleged Craigslist killer Philip Markoff - Nashua Street Jail’s most infamous inmate - could commit a slow, gruesome suicide, denying his alleged victim’s family justice.

Sheriff Andrea Cabral “failed in her duty to provide care and custody to an inmate awaiting trial, and because of this failure, the Brisman family will never see justice served,” Boston City Councilor Stephen J. Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, told the Herald.

Markoff, 24, had been awaiting trial for erotic masseuse Julissa Brisman’s execution in a Back Bay hotel last year when he was found suffocated by a clear plastic shopping bag from the jail’s canteen yesterday morning. The apple-pie handsome former medical student at Boston University had also stabbed himself with a pen, sources said. He was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m. He had not been checked on all night, sources said.

A spokeswoman for Brisman’s grief-stricken kin said the family is “shocked” and “dismayed” by Markoff’s death. “Their grief for Julissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them,” said attorney Djuna Perkins. “The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now he has taken that away as well.”

The shocking demise of the former doc-to-be - who sources said used his medical know-how to try to sever major arteries so he would bleed to death - was preliminarily ruled an “apparent suicide” by authorities on the day after the one-year anniversary of what was to be Markoff’s marriage to New Jersey bombshell Megan McAllister.

Murphy wants Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley to lead his own investigation into how Markoff was able to get away with taking his own life before trial, but a Conley spokesman said the DA is primarily focused on investigating Markoff’s cause of death. “Markoff was alone in his cell, and all evidence collected thus far indicates that he took his own life,” Conley and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said in a joint statement.

Markoff - who was not on a suicide watch, though had been previously - was to go on trial next March as an accused sex ad-thumbing deviant on a stalking spree of Craigslist advertisers. Officials at the 654-bed maximum security jail did not say how long he may have been dead. Author Kevin Borgeson, a criminology professor at Salem State College, questioned how such a high-profile prisoner could have managed to carry out such a slow, agonizing finish.

“It sounds a little odd to me. It’s strange that he could have gotten that far into the day without somebody noticing,” Borgeson said.

A source familiar with the jail’s routine said Markoff’s metal cell door would have automatically opened for breakfast at about 7 a.m., after which staff should have called upon him for the mandatory morning cleanup of his quarters. “It’s shocking and very saddening,” his defense attorney, John Salsberg, said.

The Craigslist killer case made world headlines after Brisman, 25, a bee-stung-lipped New York actress, turned up shot to death in a room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. Her skull had been crushed by the butt of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Prosecutors said Markoff had answered her online massage ad.

Brisman’s family has asked New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas to investigate State Line Gun Shop in Mason, N.H., where Markoff purchased the weapon used in the crime, Perkins said. She added Markoff purchased the firearm using a driver’s license that belonged to someone else.

“The family hopes that the U.S. Attorney’s office will focus its energies on this investigation now that the criminal prosecution has been foreclosed,” Perkins said.

On April 10, 2009, four days before killing Brisman, prosecutors said an armed Markoff held up Craigslist rent girl Trisha Leffler of Las Vegas at the Westin Hotel. He was also facing charges in Warwick, R.I., for attacking Cynthia Melton, an exotic dancer from Vegas, at the Holiday Inn Express on April 16, 2009.

Prosecutors said Markoff left a ridiculously amateur trail of fingerprints at the crime scenes and secreted the murder weapon in a hollowed-out “Gray’s Anatomy” textbook. They also found in his Quincy apartment four pairs of women’s panties hidden in his bed and plastic ties like those the Craigslist killer used to bind his victims.

David McLean, president of the Jail Officers and Employees Association of Suffolk County, said staffing was not a factor in Markoff’s suicide. “Staffing levels had nothing to do with what happened today,” McLean said. “We’re staffed accordingly 24 hours a day, whether it’s overtime or not.”

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