Boston police believe that the killer of a masseuse on Tuesday night at the Marriott Copley Place may have been involved in several other incidents and that he may have selected his victims on Craigslist.
In the latest incident Thursday night, a woman who advertised her as yet unstated services on Craigslist was bound and held at gunpoint at the Holiday Inn Express.
Her description of her attacker appears to match that of a "person of interest" in the murder of masseuse Julissa Brisman, who also advertised her massage services on Craigslist, at the Marriott Copley Place on Tuesday.
Another incident, this time at the Westin Copley Place, in which another woman (and another Craigslist advertiser) was robbed, may also be related.
In the case of the two robberies, the attacker tried to tie the women up with plastic cord. In the case of Ms. Brissman, it appears that she attempted to fight her attacker and was then shot several times in her torso.
The Holiday Inn Express victim appears to have been fortunate that her husband arrived on the scene, leading the attacker to flee.
Surveillance videos from two of the hotels show that the "person of interest" is a blond-haired, clean-cut man.
Police said the victim at the Westin was involved in prostitution.
Boston happens to be full of social activity this week. As well as Monday's Boston Marathon, the hometown Bruins and Celtics have playoff games. This is perhaps why the Boston Hoteliers Association has declared hotels as some of the safest places to be, thanks to 24-hour security.
But when private arrangements made through Craigslist--arrangements that might not normally arouse suspicion--seem to be the precursors to crime, it's hard to imagine how any hotel can possibly be completely safe.
These incidents don't seem to have discouraged the hundreds of posters offering massage services from plying their trade on the Boston Craigslist. Friday, everything from a "Swedish body rub" to "Marathon Runners Special" to "hot sexy housewife for massage" was being offered.
However, a debate has broken out in Craisglist's therapeutic-services pages, asking people to be careful and suggesting that prostitution be eliminated from the site.
One poster, in the midst of a heated discussion with another poster called Brenda McCarthy, wrote: The point of my post was to warn BOTH the client and therapist to be careful and also to tell the escorts to get off this list."
Another wrote: "Maybe now that there have been TWO murders this week, the hookers and escorts will stop advertising here, and clients will STOP going to them."
She continued: "It is making it a really dangerous place for those who are trying to do a legitimate massage, and have actually trained and bothered to get a license...Be careful, both the client AND the therapists...People are getting crazier."
There has been only one murder, so far, in fact. But these attacks will undoubtedly fuel those, like Sheriff Tom Dart of Illinois County, who want to sue Craigslist for "facilitating prostitution."
However, there will be those who will feel that criminals will always find some way of doing their twisted deeds.