Trisha Leffler is alive today because she did what she was told. A couple of months ago, the year-old prostitute from Las Vegas was staying at the plush Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston, offering her services on the local edition of Craigslist, the hugely popular online advertising site. On 10 April, a man responded to her invitation to "spend some time with a sweet blonde" and they agreed to meet half an hour later.
Taking her standard security precautions before such asations, Trisha met her client in the lobby, and saw nothing to worry about.
At which point, the encounter veered terrifyingly off-script. No sooner had the door closed behind them than her client — "a tall, good-looking guy", Leffler said later — pulled out a gun and, after tying her hands, asked for her money. Then he calmly asked for her mobile phone and erased his from its call log, before looking for somewhere to tie her, to give himself time to get away.
She suggested the door, and the man fastened her to it with plastic zip ties, sealing her mouth with duct tape. Then, bizarrely, he took a pair of underpants from her suitcase, stuffed them in his pocket and left. Within a minute Trisha managed to wrench her hands free of the ties. After waiting to make sure her attacker had gone, she called hotel security to tell them that she'd been robbed. Four days later, Julissa Brisman, a masseuse and aspiring actress from New York, was staying at the Marriott Copley, virtually next door to the Westin.
She too had advertised on Craigslist, and set up a meeting with a customer.
But this time, when he attacked, Julissa fought back — and paid for her bravery with her life. After beating her on the head, the man fired three shots at her, one of which passed through her heart.
The victim was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead later that night — and the Boston police had a sensational murder on their hands. The near-identical circumstances of the two attacks left scant doubt that the same man was responsible, transforming a relatively mundane hotel robbery into a glossy real-life film noir, featuring call girls, upmarket hotels and an internet site where paid sex was marketed and where a killer — young, white and personable — chose his victims.
And just two days later, on 16 April, came a third attack that followed the same pattern.
Once again the victim, a Las Vegas stripper promising "lap dances", had advertised her services on Craigslist. She too was held at gunpoint and tied up — but this time the assailant fled when her husband arrived on the scene.
The man was described as a tall white male with blond hair, and police made the connection with the two Boston hotel attacks almost instantly. By now, the case had gripped not just New England but half the country. Was there to be a new chapter in the long and gruesome history of American serial killers? On 20 April, just four days after the Rhode Island attack, fear gave way to amazement. Instead, Markoff would now spend the night in a jail cell in Boston, charged with the murder of Julissa Brisman and the armed robbery of Trisha Leffler. The following day, he was formally arraigned in court and the city of Boston could hardly believe its eyes.
There, shackled in the prisoner's chair, sat a young man in the studiedly casual uniform of affluent upper-middle-class America: a blue-and-white-striped open-necked shirt over a white T-shirt, khaki trousers and tassled moccasin shoes.
Markoff was tall, clean-cut and apparently wholesome. As he entered a plea of "not guilty", he looked quintessential preppy, one of those upwardly mobile young men marked out by looks and breeding to inherit the American earth. Each new detail that emerged at first only strengthened that impression. Markoff was the son of a successful dentist in upstate New York. His school record was without blemish.
He had no record of the slightest criminal wrongdoing. At the time of his arrest he was near the end of his second year at Boston University School of Medicine. His bride-to-be was an attractive girl whom he had met as a fellow student volunteer in a hospital emergency room in Albany in The picture-perfect couple were even planning a picture-perfect marriage, on 14 August, in a sunset ceremony on a New Jersey beach.
It seemed inconceivable that this bridegroom-to-be could indulge in the week-long spree of violence that had turned him into the most famous murder suspect in the country. For how could this apparently impressive young man be the individual whom Daniel Conley, the Boston district attorney, described as "a cold-hearted predator, a man who is willing to take advantage of women — to hurt them, to beat them, to rob them" and, it would appear, to kill them?
For the Boston police and in newspaper headlines across the country, Markoff was now "The Craigslist Killer" — even though by mid-June he had not been formally indicted by a grand jury, let alone convicted of any crime. In her interview with CBS, days after Markoff's arrest, Trisha Leffler, the first "Craigslist" victim, described her assailant as having "a very calm demeanour And maybe there were clues.
That sum, while large, is not especially unusual for medical students, given the long and costly training they require, in a country where such borrowing is almost the norm. But it appears that craigslist Rhode Island sex many other middle-class students, he received no aid from his parents.
For some school and college friends, initial astonishment was tempered by memories of Markoff's fondness for gambling, at which he might lose substantial sums and then stay up late into the night trying to win the money back.
Others recalled his occasional tendency to drink heavily but is that so unusual for a student?
Mostly though, they ascribed these small vices to an ambition to succeed. There was nothing to suggest the cynical double-life that prosecutors alleged — at least until a flood of leaks from police investigators and witnesses set out to fill in the gaps.
If certain details of the case are to be believed, Markoff was not the master criminal that his cool suggested. A more practised operator would have realised, for instance, that phone records could not be wiped away simply by removing a from a mobile phone's call log, or that visits to internet sites could be erased from a hard-drive memory merely by hitting the delete key. The "Craigslist Killer", moreover, seems to have taken little trouble to disguise himself from the security cameras ubiquitous at hotels.
TV stations and newspapers ran grainy pictures of a tall man in a jacket and baseball cap looking much like Markoff, as he was leaving the hotels shortly after the attacks. In one, he seemed to be sending a text message or peering at his BlackBerry. Almost certainly, these phone and computer records enabled police to make so quick an arrest — the sort of speedy arrest of a suspect in a high profile-crime, a cynic might also note, that can do wonders for the reputation of a city police department or a district attorney seeking re-election.
In the meantime, unnamed "law enforcement officials" let other titbits slip. A search of Markoff's Quincy apartment turned up a gun said to have been hidden, deliciously, in a hollowed-out copy of Gray's Anatomy which preliminary data showed to match the weapon used to kill Julissa Brisman. Allegedly, fingerprints matching those of Markoff were found at one of the crime scenes on the plastic restraints and duct tape.
According to one report, the search of the apartment also yielded 16 pairs of women's underpants, including two that had belonged to his known victims. This last find in particular inevitably fuelled speculation that a serial killer was at work. If so, however, the craigslist Rhode Island sex modus operandi was unusual. There has been no suggestion that whoever committed the crimes is a sexual psychopath — like the glib and handsome Ted Bundy, who murdered at least 30 women during the s.
Rather, prosecutors argue the motive for the attacks was simple robbery, to pay for Markoff's gambling habit. From that perspective, the use of Craigslist made perfect sense for a criminal calculating that women who offered "erotic services" in the seedy netherworld of classified online would be unlikely to make a fuss. There, however, the perpetrator miscalculated, and badly.
Trisha Leffler went to the police, while Julissa Brisman resisted so vigorously that robbery turned into murder. Faced with complaints by state attorneys-general that it was operating a de facto prostitution network — not to mention threats of direct legal action after the murder craigslist Rhode Island sex Craigslist, which boasts 50 million users every month, has now dropped the "erotic services" category, replacing it with a strictly scrutinised "adults-only" section, whose postings will be individually reviewed by a Craigslist employee before they appear.
There, for now, the case rests.
Only when grand jury indictments are unsealed, or at a preliminary hearing set for 1 July, will it be clear whether other charges will be brought, beyond the three attacks already known an arrest warrant was issued on 4 May against Markoff for the Holiday Inn attack, but Rhode Island authorities have said they will not press formal charges until the two Boston cases have been tried.
Other victims may craigslist Rhode Island sex be unwilling to come forward in public. Already though, a preppy life and reputation lies in ruins. Markoff has been suspended from medical school. She realises, according to her lawyer Robert Honecker, "that it's time to get on with her life" — even though, he added, "I believe that she still loves the man that she knows, that she knew, that she lived with.
That man, it now transpires, may be a heinous criminal who, for a while in April, terrorised a city — and continues to fascinate an entire country to this day. On 17 Octobera man admitted hacking his wife to death with a meat cleaver, after she changed her Facebook status to "single". The couple had split four days before the attack, but Wayne Forrester, 34, became enraged when his former partner, Emma, announced their separation online.
The HGV driver travelled 15 miles to where Emma was staying at her sister's house, armed with the cleaver. He said: "She posted messages on the internet website telling everybody she had left me. The serial killer Hiroshi Maeue earnt the title the "Suicide Website Murderer" after duping three members of an internet-based suicide club.
Maeue, 41, made an online pact with each of his victims — a year-old boy, a year-old woman and a year-old man — that they would end their lives together, by asphyxiation. In fact, he ended up strangling each of his victims.
A court in Osaka sentenced Maeue to death by hanging in In MarchBernd-Jurgen Brandes, a year-old German, replied to an internet advert calling for a slim, blond male who'd agree to be killed and eaten. Meiwes was sentenced to eight years, in Germany's first ever cannibalism case. Criminals targeted the bank's customers directly: more than individuals were asked to download an anti-spam program, which infected their computer with a virus that enabled the fraudsters to steal their victim's bank details.
Police traced the programs to the US and then Russia, but no individuals have been charged. On 5 Novemberan American grand jury indicted year-old Paul Schlesselman and year-old Daniel Cowart on a string of charges including "threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon a major presidential candidate" — Barack Obama. The pair, who are from different US states, were bought together by the web-based neo-Nazi skinhead outfit the Supreme White Alliance, and met only after they'd hatched their murderous plan online.
They await charges. In Maya teenage boy became the first person in Britain to be convicted of inciting their own murder.
He was given a three-year supervision order and banned from using the internet without adult supervision. Mark, his accomplice, was given a two-year supervision order for attempted murder. A young Palestinian woman confessed to luring an Israeli teenager to his death, via an internet chat-room, after a month-long Israeli interrogation which included depriving the woman of sleep. thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies.
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