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September 22, 2010

'Craigslist Killer' Philip Markoff Wrote his Ex-Fiancee's Name in Blood as he killed himself. Case Raises Serious Issues About Prostitution In Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

"Megan." The name of his ex-fiancé. This is the dying word of the now-infamous Craigslist Killer - Philip Markoff, a former Boston University Medical School student. Even more eerie, he killed himself on the date that would have been the first anniversary of his wedding to his ex-fiancé.

His intricately planned suicide, which took place while he was in Suffolk County Jail (Nashua Street Jail) awaiting trial, leaves more questions open than answered. Markoff used a razor to slash his major arteries in his ankles, legs and neck. He used the blood from these wounds to write the name on the wall of his jail cell. He also stuffed toilet paper down his throat and covered his head with a plastic bag to prevent emergency resuscitation. He covered himself in a blanket and then died.

It wasn't until a few cell checks had happened, that the deputy sheriff noted that Markoff's body beneath the blanket had not moved in a while, so he performed a safety check. What he discovered would shock even the most experienced prison guard. A source at the Nashua Street Jail said the deputy sheriff described the scene as a "bloodbath."

Markoff became the Craigslist Killer following the connection to the armed robbery and murder of Julissa Brisman in a Boston hotel on April 14, 2009. Markoff was also connected to an April 10, 2009 armed robbery of a prostitute in another Boston hotel. In April of 2009, Markoff placed a personal ad on the Craiglist's adult section to attract an adult masseuse. Julissa Brisman, a New York model and internet masseuse, responded and the two met up at the posh Marriott Copley Place Hotel. Brisman's body was discovered soon after the shooting; she had been shot and robbed of money. Fellow hotel guests reported hearing screams from the 20th floor. When discovered, she was lying in a pool of blood, with several bullet wounds and plastic wrap on her wrists.

According to the prosecutor in the case, Markoff allegedly "trolled craigslist for women he could rob in hotels" which may have been motivated by a gambling problem. Even though Marokff maintained his innocence through all charges and pled not guilty, a grand jury indicted him for 1st Degree Murder, armed robbery and other charges.

This case caught the attention of media and the public across the country. It also raised questions about prostitution and craigslist. Before the April 2009 murders, online prostitution was an underground industry. Following Markoff's arraignment, Craigslist (the public community website offering anything from apartment listings, items for sale, jobs, to personal ads) changed the name of its "erotic services" section to "adult services." Craigslist representatives also stated that more employees would review posted ads and target those being used for illegal prostitution.

However, these efforts may not be enough. According to police and anti-sex-trafficking advocates, the internet, craigslist in particular, has become the preferred place for Johns (a person seeking the services of a prostitute) to scope out their female escorts. In fact, anti-trafficking advocates have been quoted as saying: "Craigslist is like the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking right now in this country." Quite a bold statement. The anonymity of the internet allows underage girls to advertise under fake names and lie about their age. Prostitution has never been legal in Massachusetts, but its neighbor, Rhode Island, only just outlawed the selling of sexual services. Between 1980 and 2009, no law on the books in Rhode Island defined prostitution or outlawed it. However, associated crimes such as running a brothel and pimping were illegal during these times. It wasn't until November 3, 2009 that Governor Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island signed into law the bill that defined and outlawed all prostitution in the state.

The changes in Craigslist's format came after a multistate attorney general taskforce, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois, and other states, pressured Craigslist with lawsuits if it didn't take stricter action to prevent online prostitution. To prevent the lawsuits, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, created the adult services section and claims that each ad is manually reviewed to prevent prostitution and potential pornography involving minors.

Together, the Craigslist Killer murder and robbery coupled with the multistate attorney general taskforce has put online prostitution on the front pages of media across the country. It has caused a serious dialogue about the safety of women and how prostitution affects communities. It has also caused law enforcement, both police and prosecutors, to change strategies to eliminate illegal prostitution. Simple street corner sting operations in some areas may be replaced with internet-savvy detectives impersonating underage girls advertising sexual services. This also means the evidence in prostitution crimes has changed. Instead of live testimony, juries may have to analyze emails, instant messages, personal ads, and even erotic pictures.

Craigslist Date with Murder for N.Y. Beauty Julissa Brisman, Model & Internet Masseuse Shot in Hotel

'Craigslist Killer' Philip Markoff Wrote Ex-Fiance's name in Blood as He Killed Himself

Is Craigslist Doing enough to Block Prostitution?

Craigslist to Replace "Erotic Services" in Wake of Craigslist Killer, Prostitution Charges

July 28, 2010

Man Charged with Sexual Assault Pleads Not Guilty

Worcester, MA--- A former employee at the JCPenny children's department store in Sturbridge, Francisco Barros-Gomes, 27, was charged last November with sexually assaulting a young boy between the ages of 12 and 16. While the mother of the boy was making a phone call, Barros-Gomes supposedly came into the victim's dressing room with clothes that he had been asked to bring over. Although the incident occurred last fall, Barros-Gomes was only just arraigned this month where he plead not guilty. The defendant was then placed under house arrest with a monitoring device and released from his $15,000 bail.

Fox News Boston Massachusetts man pleads not guilty to JCPenney assault