Talk:Philip Markoff

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Suicide reports in reliable sources[edit]

No details are yet available, but there are several RS reports (Boston Herald, local CBS and Fox tv, et al) so this is added to the article. But editors should keep an eye on this to be sure the reports are further confirmed. Tvoz/talk 17:14, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Oh great Wiki editor in the sky, we'll make sure it's true he committed suicide in spite of MSNBC and other sources confirming it in one big chorus. --Brainchannels (talk) 17:55, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Hey, at that point the reports were sketchy - and gee, about 5 minutes ago CNN had a crawl that said "apparent suicide". Source articles are continually being updated, so now the same ABC article originally quoted is saying "all evidence points to". Right, it's obvious, and this is why we'd do better to not add anything about deaths until there's actual information available, but that ain't happening. It's "apparent" until there are reliable sources saying it's confirmed. Or were you not here when "deaths" were reported prematurely (and were untrue)? Tvoz/talk 20:34, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Edit request from Baghaii, 16 August 2010[edit]

{{editsemiprotected}} The article reads: Markoff is suspected in three robberies — one of which resulted in the murder of Julissa Brisman, which had taken place in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

It should read: Markoff is suspected in three robberies — one of which resulted in the murder of Julissa Brisman — which had taken place in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The inconsistency in punctuation in the original makes it sound as if the murder took place in two states when I believe that the robberies had taken place in two states. Sepideh (talk) 00:50, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks - fixed. Tvoz/talk 01:00, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

his lawyer's claims[edit]

Nothing notable about a lawyer claiming his client is innocent at the time of his arrest, or, in a high-profile case, that he was being convicted by the press. This doesn't belong in the lead, and likely not in the body either, but if it goes anywhere it would presumably be in the "Arrest and legal proceedings" section, and with better citations than were provided. Also, "died awaiting trial" was correct status, as is "apparent suicide" - both of which are per sources. The cause of death has been stated by the sheriff's office as apparent suicide (citation provided), and no source was provided for "suffocation" . And, it's not only in Massachusetts that people are presumed innocent - that is a fundamental principle of American law. But a lecture about it does not belong here, nor would we have listed his status as "legally innocent" before his death. It's not a correct use of that field of the infobox. Fact is, he died awaiting trial and so was neither convicted nor acquitted - we may be best off just omitting that field in the infobox altogether. Following WP:BRD, I'm reinstating the text as it was again and let's discuss, not edit war. Tvoz/talk 03:41, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

The FACT is that Philip Markoff is forever "innocent" because he died prior to any verdict being rendered in his case. That is his legal status under Massachusetts law. "Innocent", not "undetermined". "Innocent" is his legal status and nothing will ever change that. At this point it is inappropriate to have an article presenting theories and hearsay about how he is guilty, when guilty can never be his legal status. The story of Philip Markoff is now that he was charged but died as an innocent man. You might find that unfair or distastful, but those are the facts. RockSound (talk) 04:30, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

This has nothing to do with what anyone finds distasteful or unfair, and I don't recall saying anything was "undetermined". What I said is he died while awaiting trial, and I further said that we could leave the "status" out of the infobox altogether as it is just suggested text, not required text - we did not have it prior to his death, when he was also presumed innocent, but indicted and awaiting trial. This is not the appropriate place to instruct on American law, and I see no particular reason to include that line in the infobox at all, either your way or mine. But meanwhile you have turned the article around to be a paean to his innocence which is not appropriate either and and suggests a possible bias. The inclusion of the "evidence" has been contentious all along (see the archives) so it would be best to get the input of other editors before making massive changes to the way consensus on this article has been for a long time. Consensus can change, so we discuss. My feeling is that the emphasis on innocence is no more a neutral presentation than would be insisting on his guilt. Tvoz/talk 04:59, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Also, be careful about original research and synthesis - unless independent third party sources are discussing the innocence matter, it's not appropriate to include here - even if it is true. We are not supposed to extrapolate from our own knowledge or research, even when the result are true statements. We are supposed to cite reliable sources who reach the conclusions we include. For the same reason we prefer to not use primary sources (like the PDF of the lawyer's motion) - instead we rely on third party analysis. Tvoz/talk 07:51, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
A cite on how Massachusetts Law handles situations like this should be good enough. It's not like we haven't seen anything similar before -- e.g. the article on Kenneth Lay states that his "...death before sentencing resulted in the vacating of convictions.". Argel1200 (talk) 23:21, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually in Kenneth Lay it says in the intro "As a result of his death, on October 17, 2006, the federal district court judge who presided over the case vacated Lay's conviction" (4) with the footnote to Fowler, Tom (17 October 2006). "Judge vacates conviction of Ken Lay". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-03-02. So when there's a reliable source saying what happens in the Markoff case - not what we expect to happen based on our understanding of Massachusetts law - we cite that source and put in the article that this has happened. Apparently it has not happened yet (or at least no one has come up with a source saying it has), so we wait. This is an encyclopedia, not a newspaper, and there is no deadline to meet - we wait for analysis from reliable sources and write our article accordingly. Tvoz/talk 04:31, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
If a reliable source indicates how Mass. law deals with these situations then the proper thing to do would be to update the article accordingly and then wait for a reliable source to indicate if this case was handled differently. Again, that's assuming we have a reliable source for how Mass. law handles these types of situations. Argel1200 (talk) 01:53, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Prosecution evidence - in or out?[edit]

This has been discussed in the past - an editor again removed the long-standing well-sourced section of prosecution evidence, saying it is "inappropriate because it will never be adjudicated". I'm thinking about this one - what do other editors think? Tvoz/talk 07:56, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Suicide details[edit]

Markoff's suicide preparations included scraping a prison issue pen and a piece of metal into a primitive scalpel. The metal came from a metal plate Markoff pried off of an electrical outlet. He used the make-shift blade to slash major arteries in his ankles, legs and neck, including the carotid artery in his neck. Clear plastic bags that are available to inmates were used to catch the pooling blood. He swallowed toilet paper to ensure that he could not be revived, used gauze to tighten another plastic bag over his head, and then pulled the covers over him from head to toe. Joasje (talk) 22:50, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

This url has a video of the DA discussion the details of the suicide, confirming much of what the previous poster has said. (talk) 01:05, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

How horrific ... and sad. I heard that he scrawled his (former) fiancee's name in blood, along – inexplicably – with the word "pocket". ( (talk) 01:59, 18 August 2010 (UTC))
The media has learned that "Pocket" was a term that Markoff and McAllister (his former fiancee) used for each other in their relationship. "Pocket" was the nickname that Markoff used for McAllister. ( (talk) 03:44, 18 September 2010 (UTC))

Date of death[edit]

Why is there a "c." for his date of death? Has not it been confirmed that he died on August 15? This article (DA: Markoff fashioned 'primitive scalpel' to kill himself) states that: "Conley said surveillance camera footage showed that Markoff was alone in his cell and turned out the light at 1:59 a.m. Sunday and no one had entered his cell until he was discovered some eight hours later." Thanks. ( (talk) 04:09, 18 August 2010 (UTC))


I've moved this statement: "Markoff was of Carpatho Rusyn descent." here from the article, pending a reference.--Hodgson-Burnett's Secret Garden (talk) 15:41, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

moving material[edit]

Contrary to what was said in edit summary here, I didn't remove important material - I moved some things out of the lead that were more appropriate in the detail sections, like the name of the Suffolk County sheriff, and the issue regarding the conditions in Boston jails. I moved those things to the arrest/trial section and what was then called attempted suicide/death section. I don't see why the fact that there are many deaths in Boston jails belongs in the lead of this article- no problem with it being in the actual article, as it is the reason for one of the investigations surrounding his death, but no reason has been given explaining why this should be in the lead. What I removed - or re-worded actually - was the assertion that the DA was going to "drop all charges" which is not the same as "terminate prosecution", and follows the source article. I also have several times put into the intro the reference to Brisman's murder being called the "Craigslist killing" where I still think it belongs - there are hundreds of news sources referring to this as the craigslist killing and I believe readers coming here could be confused by not seeing that up front. Please note that I carefully did not call markoff the "craigslist killer", despite many sources doing so, but referred to the murder as the craigslist killing, in an abundance of BLP care. But seeing as almost every source article we list calls it such, I would like to know why it should not be in the intro. Edit summaries with explanations also would be very helpful for the large number of edits being made. Finally, where did I accuse RockSound of anything? Tvoz/talk 20:32, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Suicide attempts and death[edit]

Since the section deals with both the unsuccessful attempts as well as the final suicide, I think the two should be separated. Ricardo Santiago (talk) 19:10, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Generally we try to avoid one paragraph subsections - in this case, the entire section is only two three paragraphs, and the header makes it clear what is included there, so why break it up into two subsections? If the time comes when there's more material to add, which might happen, and the one section becomes harder to follow, then we'd go for subsections. Now it seems to be dissecting the article into too many very small parts. Tvoz/talk 23:29, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Is there any policy against "one paragraph subsections"? If there is, can you point to it? Since the section is about two distinct issues that are inter-related, it would seem logical to break the section into two sub-sections. (talk) 05:59, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
It's not prohibited, it's just generally preferred to introduce subsections when a section would be too long to easily navigate on its own, and preferably not have a lot of short subsections. See, for example, this part of the Manual of Style ('Very short or very long sections and subsections in an article look cluttered and inhibit the flow of the prose"). Here we had a three short paragraphs (not two as I mistakenly said above, now corrected) that are related to one another and clearly identified by the heading "Suicide attempts and death" - I don't think this length section needs the subheads, since the prose flows logically and the header makes it clear what will be found in the section. Tvoz/talk 07:19, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
In my opinion it's a good idea to break down the section into sub sections for the convenience of readers who are interested in one topic or the other, but not both. As for the length, short sub-sections encourage others to expand them. Ricardo Santiago (talk) 16:31, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Attacks attributed to Markoff[edit]

Since he was never convicted, I think it's wrong to just call the section "Attacks". Ricardo Santiago (talk) 19:11, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

If I recall correctly, this section head was finally agreed to as "Attacks" a while back in an attempt to keep it neutral - i.e., to not say he was alleged to have committed the crimes, but to just list the crimes. I changed it back to that to avoid accusations of POV, but I'll wait to see what other editors think. Seems to me that "attacks attributed to Markoff" implies that he committed them but was not convicted. That's ok with me, but I expect some others might object. Tvoz/talk 00:35, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
I suppose if anybody objects they can post their objection here. Ricardo Santiago (talk) 06:14, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
Apparently one editor objected and went ahead and changed it to something else without bothering to comment here. New heading seems a bit odd to me, but "Attacks" wasn't too great either. Tvoz/talk 06:43, 23 August 2010 (UTC)
My preference for the section heading is "Attacks attributed to Markoff", but I can live with the current heading of "Robberies and Murder". Ricardo Santiago (talk) 16:29, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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