Be VERY careful on CraigList.com

From NY Daily News

AIKEN, S.C. – They were study buddies with the same major, the same friends. They met for lunch before classes, trading fun biology facts over margaritas at Bomber’sBurrito Bar.

But one cold winter night four years ago, long before Philip Markoff was accused of being the CraigslistKiller, Morgan Houston got a glimpse into his dark side.

They went out drinking with members of their premed fraternity and were walking to their SUNY Albany dorms when the 6-foot Markoff overpowered the 5-foot-6 Houston.

“He pushed me up against the wall and tried kissing me,” Houston told the Daily News on Wednesday in an exclusive interview about her former classmate.

“No, Phil, get off me, stop kissing me, I’m not interested in you, what are you trying to do?” a panicked Houston told Markoff as she struggled to free herself on the dark campus.

“I couldn’t physically get him off of me. Thankfully, he wasn’t on top of me, but I couldn’t push him away.”

Houston said she was “scared,” but fortunately, another male friend walked by and pulled Markoff away from the soft-spoken brunette.

“I don’t know what would have happened,” Houston said at her family’s vacation home in South Carolina horse country, where she is studying for her medical boards after finishing up her second year of podiatry school.

At the time, Houston chalked up his brutishness to one too many beers. The two never spoke of the incident and remained friends.

“That was the only time that he was aggressive toward me,” she said – but added that Markoff had given her the creeps on other occasions.

“I remember I had a new pair of jeans and him telling me how good my butt looked in them and I should wear them more often,” she said.

“I was kind of like, ‘Ugh, thanks, Phil.’ ”

At a Halloween party their sophomore year, Markoff showed up dressed as a “mammogram,” in a box with a sign that said, ‘Free mammograms here.'”

Though it may have given a clue to his attitude toward women, Houston didn’t hold the tasteless costume against her socially awkward friend.

“I just brushed it off as, ‘It’s Halloween. He’s drinking. He’s in a funny costume. People do stuff like that,’ but it’s frightening,” she recalled.

Markoff and Houston met their sophomore year as pledges to the same fraternity and became fast friends, united by their shared love of science.

“I’d meet him in the library my junior year before every organic chemistry exam and study together,” she said.

“I would be freaking out and stressed, and he would get there and sit down next to me and say, ‘I haven’t studied at all. Teach me something,'” she said.

She would go over the course material with him, then they’d study separately and go take the test.

“He would ace it, and I’d get a C,” she said.

It wasn’t until later that she learned his secret: Before their cram sessions, Markoff holed himself up in his dorm room with his books, studying eight hours a day.

He was a better student than she was but pretended to be behind so he could spend time with her.

By senior year, Markoff had put his crush on Houston behind him and met his fiancée, Megan McAllister, another SUNY Albany student.

“I was happy for him,” Houston said. “The girl seemed nice.”

After graduation, they kept in touch. She wrote on his Facebook wall last month to wish him a happy birthday and congratulate him on his engagement.

Now she’s trying to reconcile the young man she knew with the portrait police have painted of Markoff: a gambling addict who lured escorts into armed robberies and killed one of them in cold blood.

She said that she never heard the stories now coming out of Markoff trolling craigslist or tales of his heavy poker-playing habit.

“He was never the life of the party,” Houston said, a catch in her throat as she reviewed scenes from her college years.

“He was a little awkward, but he was nice … smart.”

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