Lifetime TV movie review: The Craigslist Killer

Engaged to a young, well-to-do woman named Megan [Agnes Bruckner], Philip Markoff [Jake McDorman] led a dark double life that startled many in Boston and beyond. He appeared to be the perfect student, getting excellent grades and impressing his instructors. Megan’s world revolved around him. Late at night, Markoff would browse Craigslist listings and set up meetings with women. He’d show up with supplies such as duct tape and cable ties, as well as weaponry like knives and a gun.

When a masseuse gets brutally killed in an upscale Boston hotel room, the Boston police connect the woman to her Craigslist erotic services posting. Soon dubbed the Craigslist Killer after he makes an attempt in Providence and several women step forward, detectives close in on a seemingly improbable suspect: a blonde, preppy Boston University medical student. History has shown that many violent sex offenders and killers are attractive, boy-next-door type guys.

Markoff’s fiancée Megan knew nothing about any of this. That may be the creepiest part. At first she comes out in full support of Philip’s innocence but over time she realizes that even she got tricked by this cunning, perverse killer. Markoff kept a collection of panties under the mattress and his gun in a medical book. He treated these women he met through Craigslist in vile, cruel and humiliating ways. No one will ever know why Markoff did what he did because he committed suicide while in prison. He wrote the name Megan in blood on the wall.

Based on the book A Date with Death by former crime reporter Michele McPhee, The Craigslist Killer might not provide answers but provides vivid imagery. The scenes where Markoff meets up with women from Craigslist are frightening. McDorman makes Markoff simultaneously creepy and likable, nearly empathetic at times. Bruckner is excellent as the unsuspecting fiancée. Despite hearing and reading about this case and about Markoff for months, this film gives the viewer a behind-the-scenes look into the actions of a killer and the Boston Police Department’s rather speedy apprehension of him.

The Craigslist Killer premieres Monday, January 3 at 9pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

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