Cops: Craigslist Killer Robbed To Fund Fiancée's "Lavish Lifestyle"

In a search of accused killer Philip Markoff's apartment, police found the victims' underwear and a handgun. Now reports suggest his motive was paying off gambling debts he ran up financing his fiancée's "lavish lifetyle."

A plea of not guilty was entered for Philip Markoff at his arraignment yesterday on charges of murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery, according to The Boston Globe. He was ordered held without bail until his next court appearance on May 21. Police have turned up new evidence in the case, saying they found a handgun in a hollowed-out copy of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body, panties taken from the victims, duct tape, restraints, and ammunition. Investigators are testing the gun to see if it was used to fatally shoot masseuse Julissa Brisman on April 14. Police say a Google search of Markoff's phone number brought up an old Craigslist post advertising "Ebony Erotic Masseuse." The ad said "taking my last appointment" and told customers to call Markoff's number.

It has been revealed that when police arrested Markoff on Monday driving south on Interstate 95, he was headed to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and his fiancée, Megan McAllister, was in the car. The Globe reports that McAllister, a medical student like Markoff, told police she frequently stays with her parents in New Jersey and had been there most of last week. She hadn't been following the story of the Craigslist Killer, but said her mother had told her, "Be careful ... There was some guy that killed somebody up in Boston." After questioning, McAllister asked to use a computer to book a plane ticket back to New Jersey and police drove her to the airport.

An unidentified police source told ABC News that they believe Markoff's motive was robbery, as he needed to pay off gambling debts. As ABC News puts it:

Police have said Markoff's fiancee, Megan McAllister, who has stuck by him and not said much publicly, was accustomed to a lavish lifestyle that may have been financed, at least in part, by the money he got from robbing other women.

Former friends say Markoff's love of gambling dates back to high school, when he wrote in his senior yearbook, "I bequeath my poker playing skills to Andy Finley so he won't lose his dad's house." A college friend of Markoff's has come forward to share a glimpse of his "dark side." In an interview with The New York Daily News, Morgan Houston said when they were walking back to their SUNY Albany dorms after a night of drinking four years ago, "[Markoff] pushed me up against the wall and tried kissing me," She says she told him, "No, Phil, get off me, stop kissing me, I'm not interested in you, what are you trying to do?" but he would not get off her. A male friend pulled Markoff off of her before things went any further.

Trisha Leffler, the Las Vegas prostitute who was robbed in a Boston hotel on April 10 has also come forward, saying she believes that she is alive because, "I just complied with everything he wanted me to do and I didn't resist him in any way," reports The New York Daily News. She says she believes Markoff was her attacker, and during their meeting, he pulled a gun on her, shackled her with plastic handcuffs, tied her to a doorknob, and covered her mouth with tape. He took cash, gift cards, a debit card, and left. "I slipped my ties within one minute after he was gone," Leffler said, adding that she plans to get out of the escort business.

At a press conference yesterday, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in light of this case, Craigslist should take stronger action to combat pornography, prostitution, and child trafficking in its online advertisements, according to The Boston Globe. He demanded that the site make it impossible for users to post images in the "erotic services" category and hire more staff to scan the sites for ads promoting illegal activity, and suggested a $1,000 on users who post illegal ads. Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster denied that the website offers sex-related advertising, claiming in an email to The Globe that the "erotic services" section should only include "legitimate escort services, sensual massage, exotic dancers, etc.," but that offers to exchange sexual favors for money are "strictly prohibited" and removed from the site.

Search Of Suspect's Home Turns Up A Gun Police Say [Boston Globe]
A High-Tech Tip, An Old-School Stakeout In Craigslist Attacks [Boston Globe]
College Classmate Says Markoff Attacked Her [ABC News]
College Buddy Morgan Houston Recalls Her Close Call With 'Craigslist Killer' Suspect Philip Markoff [New York Daily News]
Surviving Victim Of Craigslist Killer: Phillip Markoff Should Be Jailed For Life [New York Daily News]
Amid Calls To Curb Ads For Illegal Sex Craigslist CEO Defends Status Quo [Boston Globe]

Earlier: Fiancee of Accused Craigslist Killer Says He's Innocent