'Craigslist Murder' a New Internet Phenomenon

Real-world cops with computers tracked real-world cybercrime
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2009 4:18 PM CDT
Philip Markoff.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff’s alleged crimes and capture were so tied to the Internet that a “new kind of murder” has been born, writes Maureen Orth in Vanity Fair. Not only did Markoff allegedly find victim Julissa Brisman on Craigslist, but before the meeting that Boston police say led to her death, they communicated only by email. And investigators’ identification of a suspect worked the same way, with a little help from Microsoft.

Once the cops ID’d Markoff, their focus turned to Craigslist, whose Erotic Services posts appeared to have facilitated the murder. “Craigslist didn’t mean to start out creating a cyber-brothel, but that’s what it grew into,” one DC cop says. But though Craigslist has cooperated with the investigation and changed its policies, its CEO sees something of a ray of sunshine. If criminals use the service to commit a crime, he says, “it virtually guarantees they’ll be caught.”