WOBURN — The two men had already robbed one escort at gunpoint, prosecutors said, and had arranged to meet a second, just a few miles away.
Shortly after midnight Thursday morning, they arrived at the Extended Stay America, a hotel just off Route 128 near the Burlington Mall. In a matter of minutes, authorities said, the men robbed and shot a 34-year-old woman at close range in the chest, leaving her dead in her hotel room.
On Monday, the suspects were identified as Epshod Jeune, 24, of Burlington and Derrell Fisher, 21, of Roxbury, and arraigned on murder charges. Prosecutors said the two men arranged to meet the victim, Sanisha Johnson, through backpage.com, an ad listing service with an adult classified section, with plans to rob her, just 20 minutes after robbing another escort in Woburn.
The men carried out a “joint venture to rob escorts at gunpoint,’’ Middlesex prosecutor Adrienne Lynch said in court, where Jeune and Fisher were ordered held without bail.
Both men pleaded not guilty. On the courthouse steps, Jeune’s lawyer said he planned to take a close look at the allegations.
“We’re going to do our own independent investigation,” Robert Sinsheimer told reporters. “We will leave no stone unturned.”
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said authorities are concerned that the men may have carried out similar robberies, and urged those with pertinent information to notify authorities.
Prosecutors said surveillance video footage and phone calls and text messages with Johnson linked the men to the crime, and that a third person was driving the getaway car.
Johnson, who lived in New York City, had been staying at the hotel since last Monday. Jeune used to work at the Extended Stay America, prosecutors said.
The men allegedly called Johnson at 12:19 a.m., just before guests at the hotel reported hearing a woman’s screams and a gunshot. Video surveillance at the hotel showed both men, Lynch said, and a car registered to Jeune was seen arriving and leaving.
The car had distinctive “front-end damage,” prosecutors said.
Just before midnight, the men allegedly met an escort at a Red Roof Inn in Woburn. As soon as the woman invited Fisher into her room, Jeune quickly appeared, grabbing her and putting a gun to her head, prosecutors said. The woman’s ID card was later found at Jeune’s Burlington home, along with ammunition.
“No gun has yet been recovered,” Lynch said.
The two hotels are less than 6 miles apart.
When questioned by police, Fisher said he had been at work at the time, but his employer denied this. Jeune said he was with his girlfriend, but did not provide her name to authorities.
In 2012, Jeune was charged with assaulting a police officer in Boston, according to police records.
The men are due back in court Aug. 4.
Relatives of Johnson could not be reached for comment.
In 2009, Philip Markoff was accused of killing a New York masseuse in a Boston hotel room after arranging to meet through Craigslist. He committed suicide in his jail cell in 2010.