The Illicit List: Crime and Craigslist
Clean-cut and ambitious, the tall, blond and preppy Philip Markoff might have seemed like an ideal date. Of course, things were more complicated.
He grew up with his mother and stepfather in a two-story colonial in Sherrill, in upstate New York. His father, Richard Markoff, a successful dentist and the son of a prominent Maryland attorney, lived in nearby Syracuse with his second wife; Philip's brother Jonathan lived with them. His mother, Susan Haynes, also remarried. She had a daughter five years younger than Philip with her second husband. She was a homemaker while Philip was young, but then worked in the nearby Turning Stone Casino gift shop after her second divorce.
A classmate from Verona-Sherrill High School, Rob Baker, says that Markoff was a good student and one of the leaders on their bowling teamand that he liked to bet on games. Markoff practiced every day. And, as soon as they were old enough, after practice he'd urge teammates to join him at the casino.
During his college years at the University at Albany-SUNY, he indulged in poker nearly every weekend, often all night. He was a bitter loser and not one to walk readily away from a losing streak. James Kehoe, a friend from Albany, said that in addition to poker, Markoff liked video games and golfand marijuana. On the other hand, Kehoe related, Markoff was an intense student who drove himself to match his father's success.
Markoff kept his darker side and habits under control throughout his undergraduate years, excelling academically and devoting himself to respectable extracurricular pursuits. Freshman orientation roommate Ryan Meikl recalled that high-strung Markoff was a perfectionist. Markoff belonged to a College Republican Club and to a medical fraternity. He supported the Iraq war and gun rights. He volunteered at a hospital, where he met his future fiancée, Megan McAllister. Acquaintances remember him variously as reserved or arrogant, and uncomfortable with women before he met McAllister.
Frank M. Hauser, professor emeritus at SUNY-Albany, recalls that Markoff earned an A in his chemistry class, a grade the tough professor rarely gave out. The professor, like many of Markoff's neighbors and classmates, expressed a commonplace surprise voiced by those who knew him that someone so smart could get into such trouble. The frequent expressions of astonishment almost implied a conviction that only the stupid commit such violent crimesor get caught.
Markoff graduated a year early, summa cum laude with a degree in biology. He then headed to Boston University for medical school. He lived first in Dorchester, and moved to Quincy in July 2008 with McAllister, also a medical student.
Friends say he was a focused, hardworking student who knew how to have a good time gambling and drinking. But one B.U. classmate noted that Markoff seemed unable to look anyone in the eye. His lab partner Tiffany B. Montgomery, 26, stated that Markoff suffered from dramatic mood swings and even depression. She says her lab group peers agree Markoff "wasn't right in the head."
Associates alternately describe him as a quiet, seemingly normal guy or as "too quiet."
But before April of 2009 no one seems to have realized that this khaki-clad, Oxford-wearing second-year medical student might pose a serious danger.