Monday, April 27, 2009

Classified for Murder?

by Michelle Feuer

I don’t usually end up in happy places without there being an unhappy story to match. Last week, my job producing for CBS 48 Hours Mystery brought me to a town that I love—Aiken, South Carolina. It’s beautiful horse country where the equestrian scene is one of the finest in the world. The horse farms blow your mind and the polo matches are inspired grace. Sadly, I was not in Aiken to enjoy polo, but to learn more about alleged Craigslist killer, Philip Markoff.

Why was I in the South when the story happened in Boston? Turns out that a young medical student named Morgan Houston was in Aiken studying for the medical boards and she gave the first interview to the Daily News about her old friend, Philip Markoff.

Markoff and Houston had attended the State University of New York together. On Thursday, when I arrived at her parents' house after a 6:00 a.m. drive from Atlanta, local reporters were swarming and the whole scene was out of character for the nice, conservative, and peaceful South Carolina town.

After a long, long day of chaos, she was ready to sit-down and chat with us for our "CRAIGSLIST: Classified for Murder?" show that aired on Saturday night. You can see excerpts of her interview with Richard Schlesinger on the 48 Hours Web site as well as photos she gave us of Markoff during his college days.

Another exclusive find by CBS was our interview with Trish Leffler, a Las Vegas masseuse who advertised her services on Craigslist. Leffler says she was bound with a plastic cord and robbed at a Boston hotel by Philip Markoff four days before Julissa Brisman’s murder. Check out the partial transcript of our interview with her here.

What blows my mind about Leffler’s story is that she says the police came and took all the evidence from the hotel room, plus her cell phone. Markoff and Leffler had communicated by cell phones prior to the robberies, and they had sent messages via computer on Craigslist. Could they have prevented Julissa Brisman’s murder at the Marriott four days later if they had simply checked the Craigslist account faster and more thoroughly? Also, Markoff was captured on security camera footage both at the Westin and at the Marriott. Did they not take the crime seriously because of the nature of Leffler’s job?

New York Magazine just came out with the article I wanted to write—the conversation with Megan McAllister, Markoff’s 25-year-old fiancée. McCallister has come out publicly already saying she believes her man and insists he was set up. I can’t wait to hear more from Megan. And I cant wait to see if police are able to find more crimes committed by Markoff.


Leah said...

This is going to be a very interesting case. I walked into the room one day last week and caught the end of an interview with a female whom I took to be an old girlfriend of Markooff's. She was describing how she was trying to fight him off because she didn't want to have sex with him. There is no telling how many victims, dead and alive, that this creep has left behind. I hope his GF gets a grip because I don't forsee there being any mistake here.

Thank you for the excellent post. Looking forward to your 48 Hour segment on this case.

FleaStiff said...

>if they had simply checked the Craigslist account faster?
I don't know. There are administrative delays and other cases. Four days? I don't know.
>not take the crime seriously because of Leffler’s job?
I don't know. I'm sure such things play a role but the crime took place in a somewhat upscale hotel. I imagine the police felt that a parade of anonymous johns would make the case more challenging.
Did the cops slack off a bit? Who knows? I doubt a warrant would have been needed to press the call history key. Video tapes can be obtained promplty but scanning them takes time and equipment. I don't see the four days as indicative of any "who cares" attitude.

Anonymous said...

The cops usually drag their feet on cases with hookers.