Just a week before her death, the masseuse and aspiring model who was killed, police say, by a man answering her Craigslist ad, told her mother that she was going to Boston to meet a young man with a good pedigree.
Julissa Brisman, 26, told her mother, Carmen Guzman, that she had met a guy on the Internet who was a medical student, according to Jenny Guzman, 27, of the Bronx, Brisman's cousin.
"My aunt was like 'You better be careful, because people who are on the Internet are sometimes bad people,' '' she said Wednesday, as she stood outside the Washington Heights funeral home where friends and relatives gathered for Julissa Brisman's wake.
"She was like, 'No, he's a nice guy. He's a medical student,' " Jenny Guzman said.
Philip Markoff, 23, a first-year medical student, has been charged with Brisman's killing at the Marriott Copley Place hotel April 14. He is also charged in the robbery of another woman he allegedly met at another Boston hotel four days earlier.
A law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that police found items belonging to both women in Markoff's apartment in Quincy, south of Boston.
Markoff was arrested on Monday on Interstate 95 in Massachusetts as he and his fiancee drove to Foxwoods Casino. He was arraigned on charges in Boston court Tuesday and is being held without bail.
Friends and family gathered at the Ortiz Funeral Home to remember the aspiring actress. "She was really feisty, she wouldn't let anyone push her around, which is why it didn't surprise me at all that I heard that she fought back," says Carlee, a friend from Brooklyn who withheld her last name.
Inside, Carmen Guzman collapsed into tears as she stood by Brisman's open coffin, her daughter's face covered in a light veil while pictures of her as a child surrounded the coffin.
"The family thinks that we should go to court in Boston and just express ourselves" to Markoff in court, says Daisy Guzman, 20, another cousin of Brisman's. "I would go crazy on him. I would ask him so many questions, like why. . . . Why? She had nothing to do with you."
This story was supplemented with wire service reports.