Philip Markoff, 24, was awaiting trial next year in the fatal shooting of a masseuse in an upscale Boston hotel on April 14, 2009. Prosecutors say Markoff met the woman, Julissa Brisman, 25, through the erotic services section of Craigslist.
Markoff, a clean-cut former Boston University medical student, suffered a cut to an artery and had a plastic bag over his head, The Boston Globe reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.
According to the Boston Herald, Markoff used a pen to stab himself and got the clear plastic bag from the jail's canteen. NBC's "Today" show, also citing unidentified law enforcement officials, said Markoff cut arteries in his neck and leg by stabbing himself with a pen.
Markoff was found unresponsive Sunday morning in his cell at Boston's Nashua Street Jail, and authorities said they are investigating his "apparent suicide." He was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m. Authorities did not say whether he left a note.
"Markoff was alone in his cell, and all evidence collected thus far indicates that he took his own life," police and prosecutors said in a statement.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, would not comment on Markoff's reported manner of suicide or describe what was found with him. "The investigation is open and ongoing," he told AOL News.
The medical examiner did a preliminary autopsy but withheld the cause of death while awaiting additional specialized tests, Wark said. "Investigators are still reviewing the ME's preliminary findings," he said.
Brisman's family was furious that there'll be no trial, which was set for March.
"Their grief for Julissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them,'' said a statement from the family's lawyer, Djuna Perkins, carried in several news reports. "The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now he has taken that away as well.''
Markoff's lawyer, John Salsberg, told the Globe: "I'm shocked and saddened by the news.''
The Globe reported last year that Markoff was put under special surveillance after marks on his neck suggested he tried to use shoelaces to kill himself. He had not been on a recent suicide watch, the Globe said, and a prison official said in May that he had adjusted well to prison life and played chess with other inmates.
Stephen Murphy, a Boston city councilor, told the Herald he wants an independent investigation into Markoff's death, saying the sheriff failed to provide "care and custody" to Markoff that now deprives the victim's family of justice.
After his arrest, authorities said, Markoff seemed to be living a double life. He was a medical student engaged to marry his college girlfriend, Megan McAllister. Authorities say he was also preying on women he met through Craigslist.
After Brisman's death at the Marriott Copley hotel, authorities said they found a handgun in Markoff's Quincy apartment that they believe was used to bash her skull before she was shot three times. Investigators also found women's underwear hidden in a box spring.
Markoff was also charged with attacking an exotic dancer at a hotel in Warwick, R.I., two days after Brisman's killing. He allegedly held her up at gunpoint but left when her husband came in the room, according to reports.
Police linked Markoff to the robbery of a prostitute in another Boston hotel, the Westin Copley Place, four days before Brisman's death.
After Markoff's arrest, his fiancee called off the wedding, which would have been one year ago Saturday. The anniversary may have played a role in his apparent suicide.
A friend from college at the State University of New York at Albany recalled a night when Markoff became physically aggressive with her, an incident she attributed to too much alcohol.
Morgan Houston told CBS' "The Early Show" today that Markoff walked her to the door one night, "like a lot of guy friends will do."
"At the entrance to the dorm, he shoved me up against the wall and tried kissing me," she said. "And I couldn't physically overpower him to get him off. It was really scary because I was fighting against him, and saying, 'No, Phil. What are you doing?'"
A friend came by and "had to pull him off me," Houston recalled.
Houston said she was surprised by Markoff's suicide and had mixed feelings, adding, "At one point, he was a friend."