BOSTON – A former medical student awaiting trial in the shooting death of a masseuse he met through Craigslist killed himself in an apparent suicide reportedly by cutting his wrists and suffocating himself.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, but the Boston Herald, quoting anonymous sources, said the 24-year-old used a pen to cut arteries and covered his head with a plastic bag. The newspaper also reported that he had not been checked all night.
Markoff was discovered dead, alone in his cell, on Sunday morning.
Boston City Councilor Stephen Murphy called Monday for an independent investigation of jailhouse procedures.
Murphy said Philip Markoff should not have been able to kill himself while in custody of the Suffolk County sheriff.
"Regardless of my personal feelings about Philip Markoff, he technically was an inmate awaiting trial, and he was in the care and custody of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office. He had shown a penchant for doing harm to himself before. You would have thought he would have been under the closest of attention," said Murphy, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee.
Murphy, who is running for state treasurer, said the Boston Police Department and Suffolk County district attorney should expand their investigation of Markoff's death to examine procedures at the Nashua Street jail and other facilities under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Andrea Cabral.
Suffolk County recorded an average annual rate of 10 suicides per 100,000 jail inmates between 2000 and 2007, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nationally, the average rate during that same time period was 42 suicides per 100,000 jail inmates, the report said.
Markoff's death denies Brisman's family a long-awaited opportunity to confront him and hear the details of their loved one's final moments, said Djuna Perkins, an attorney for Brisman's mother, Carmen Guzman.
"First he took their daughter from them, then he denied that opportunity for them," she said. "Many people who deal with homicide never get over it, but the criminal trial allows them to confront the suspect, hear the evidence and reach some resolution in the case."
Perkins did not fault the Sheriff's Office in the death. Markoff had been placed under suicide watch just three days after his arrest after a correction officer noticed marks on his neck indicating he may have attempted to hang himself.
"I think that if you really want to commit suicide, you're going to do it," Perkins said. "He was somebody who had an anatomical knowledge. He was a smart guy. I'm sure he could find plenty of time to think."
Saturday would have been Markoff's first wedding anniversary, but his nuptials were canceled after his arrest.
Brisman, a 26-year-old masseuse from New York City, was beaten with a gun and shot three times in the Marriott Copley Hotel in Boston in April 2009. Authorities allege Markoff, a former Boston University student, lured her there and botched a robbery to support his gambling habit.
He pleaded not guilty, and also in the armed robbery of a Las Vegas woman at another Boston hotel within four days of Brisman's death. Rhode Island prosecutors also accused him of attacking a stripper that same week.
He had met all three through Craigslist advertisements for erotic services. His trial in the Massachusetts cases had been expected in March.
Markoff's lawyer, John Salsberg, said he was shocked and saddened about his client's death. He would not comment further.
The Boston Police Department crime lab identified two blood stains taken from swabs on a handgun that was seized during a search of Markoff's apartment in Quincy, Mass., said prosecutors.
Investigators also found several other items in the apartment, including four pairs of women's underwear wrapped inside socks and hidden in a box spring, authorities said.
Markoff's parents, Susan Haynes and Richard Markoff, didn't speak to reporters about their son at the time but said through his attorney they loved him very much and supported him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.