Police said they think she was fighting an attacker during an attempted robbery when he shot her several times in the torso. And the same person may have been involved in the robbery last week of a woman at the Westin Copley Hotel, Police Commissioner Edward Davis said.
Both women had advertised massage services on Craigslist, the online classified service, and both were guests at luxury hotels. The motive for both attacks appeared to be robbery, Davis said.
The victim at the Westin, a 29-year-old from Las Vegas, was bound with a plastic cord and robbed of a debit card and $800 in cash. Police believe Brisman's attacker had also attempted to tie her with a plastic cord.
They released surveillance video from both hotels showing a young, clean-cut looking man with blond hair whom they called a "person of interest" in both crimes.
Police said that they believe the victim at the Westin was involved in prostitution but that they are uncertain about Brisman.
"What we know is that Miss Brisman was advertising masseuse services on Craigslist," said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. A massage table was found in her hotel room.
Brisman's killing and the earlier attack at the Westin come as the city's hotels prepare for thousands of guests streaming into the city for NBA and NHL playoff games and the Boston Marathon.
"In light of the incident on Tuesday night, we heightened security, as much in an effort to kind of appease any potentially frazzled nerves than anything else," said Lucy Slosser, a spokeswoman for the Marriott Copley.
Paul Sacco, president of the Massachusetts Lodging Association, said he spoke to several hotel managers Thursday.
"Naturally, it's a concern. Basically, we are going into a marathon weekend, a very busy period," he said.
"But I have to say that hotels are some of the safest places to be. They have 24-hour security. These two rather terrible and isolated incidents, I feel, are just that."
Brisman's killing also appears to have rattled other masseuses who advertise on Craigslist in Boston.
One poster included a news article about the killing and wrote "very scary!!" under the headline: "YOU MUST READ THIS..."
Brisman's friends said they didn't know she had advertised herself as a masseuse.
Matthew Terhune, 34, a photographer from New York City, said he photographed Brisman last year for head shots she needed for a tanning salon.
He said Brisman told him she had been paid $1,000 to fly out to private parties in Chicago and walk around in a bikini or topless. "But I don't think it went beyond that," Terhune said. "They were just parties where guys wanted to see hot girls."
Makeup artist Emily Claire, 30, Terhune's girlfriend, worked with Brisman during the photo shoot. She said Brisman, a recovering alcoholic, wanted eventually become an Alcoholics Anonymous counselor.
"The last time she was here she went to an AA meeting," Claire said.
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS