EXCLUSIVE: Reading Julissa Brisman's Diary

By Yevgeniya Shekhtman

Julissa Brisman, the victim of the so-called Craigslist Killer, had successfully stopped drinking and was trying to repair past relationships and get her life on track when she was murdered, according to her personal journal, which was reviewed by the Voice.

"I had a taste of the sober life, and I liked it," wrote Brisman in the last entry in her journal, noting that she had gotten a tattoo on her foot of the date of her sobriety and hoped she wouldn't relapse. "So why do this to myself; All the pain, humiliation and suffering [punctuation hers]. That was September 19, 2008 and I haven't touched a drink since."

Brisman, 25 at the time of her death, was beaten and shot to death April 14th in a Boston hotel room. Med student Philip Markoff, 23, of Quincy, Mass., has been arrested on murder and robbery charges.  He pleaded not guilty in an arraignment last week, and has been placed on suicide watch. Boston police say Markoff contacted Brisman through an advertisement placed on Craigslist, the popular classified ad website. Markoff, authorities say, allegedly committed at least two other robberies of women to finance a gambling habit.

Brisman kept her handwritten journal, which was decorated with a beach scene, on a shelf among a collection of books about Marilyn Monroe...

The front cover of the journal reprinted the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's prayer, which is often cited by people in recovery from drugs and alcohol: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

Brisman lived in a small one-bedroom with a roommate in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. A member of the animal rights group PETA, she was devoted to her dog, which she named Coco Chanel. She kept a framed picture of her and the dog on a night table next to her bed. The room was also decorated with a large poster of Marilyn Monroe and a Monroe calender.

Brisman had been a bartender, but she quit to avoid being around alcohol. Instead, she supported herself by working at times in a tanning salon, freelance modeling gigs, occasional acting jobs, and advertising herself as a masseuse, according to her roommate, Max Kuperman, 22. Her work kept her out of town quite a bit.

Kuperman tells the Voice that he recalls being concerned about her line of work. "I warned her about all the guys," he says. "I warned her so many times that she should watch out for all these perverts out there.  I wish I tried harder."

Curiously, it doesn't appear that Brisman ever wrote in the diary about her side job as a masseuse. But, in one lengthy entry after another stretching over two years, Brisman poured out her innermost feelings. At one point, she made a list of her fears, which included death, sharks, needles and lobsters.

Her worst fear, she wrote, was relapsing. "Once that happens I'll be a gonner [goner] probably, and what will happen to my family, friends, acting, LIFE?! I love sobriety and I'm afraid to ever lose it."

Brisman had the revelation that she needed to stop drinking almost two years ago, adding that she began drinking heavily while working as a bartender.

"I woke up April 14 and said no, I can't do this anymore," she writes. "I'm turning 24 in two weeks and need to change!"

Brisman made notes in the journal on how to improve her past relationships.  She made a list of 36 people that she felt had either wronged or had wronged her, and how she would repair the damage.

Of one of her friends, she writes, "I should have stopped hanging out with her when I realized she was only my friend when we were doing drugs or drinking."

Brisman was proud of her sobriety, and she felt like she needed to be a good role model for her younger sister. In one notable entry, she describes what her mother told her on Mother's Day.

"I asked ma what she wanted for Mother's Day and she said ' I already got the best Mother's Day you could ever give me, your sobriety,'" she wrote. "Put a smile on my face.  I know cheesy, but being sober makes me smile."    

In another entry, she wrote, "Today I went to a women's meeting in LA and I got a 30-day chip, and a welcome chip! Yay!"

Brisman hoped to become a drug counselor, and was studying toward that goal.

Brisman's friend Kinga described her as a "beautiful person inside and out." She was "full of energy" and "always there to count on."

"We are still going to celebrate her birthday April 24th, she'll always be in our heart," Kinga said last week prior to Brisman's birth date.  "I hope that bastard pays for what he did to my dear friend."

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