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Craigslist killing accused found dead in his jail cell

Philip Markoff, the former medical student who was accused of being the "Craigslist Killer" who sought out female victims on the popular internet site, has taken his own life in jail as he awaited trial.

The 24-year-old was accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist, the online advertising website.

He was found unresponsive in his cell yesterday morning in the Nashua Street Jail, according to the Suffolk County district attorney's office, and was later pronounced dead.

"Markoff was alone in his cell, and all evidence collected thus far indicates that he took his own life," the district attorney's office said.

Saturday would have been Mr Markoff's first wedding anniversary, but his nuptials were cancelled after his arrest in April, 2009. Mr Markoff, a former clean-cut Boston University student, pleaded not guilty to the fatal shooting of New York masseuse Julissa Brisman, and the armed robbery of a Las Vegas woman.

He was alleged to have met the women through advertisements for erotic services posted on Craigslist, a classified advertising website.

According to the charges, Mr Markoff had robbed an exotic dancer at the Westin Hotel in Boston in the small hours of April 10, after answering an ad on Craigslist. Four days later he allegedly shot dead Julissa Brisman (26), an aspiring model from New York who offered massages in the Marriott Copley Place hotel.

Prosecutors say that Mr Markoff shot her repeatedly in the torso as she tried to flee from the room, where she had a massage table set up.

Mr Markoff had been arrested during a traffic stop as he drove to a Connecticut casino. His trial in the Massachusetts cases was expected to begin in March.

A lawyer said Ms Brisman's family was "shocked and dismayed" to hear of Mr Markoff's death.

"Their grief for Julissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them," said the family's lawyer.