Piazza Killers May be Out-of-Towners

Gunmen who killed Rian Thal and friend may have traveled here for the hit

By Karen Araiza
|  Friday, Jul 3, 2009  |  Updated 8:25 PM EDT
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Surveillance Video Shows Well-Orchestrated Ambush

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Rian Thal, 34, was an event planner and promoter, a well-known "party girl" in the city's nightclub and hip hop scene.

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Surveillance Video Shows Well-Orchestrated Ambush

Surveillance video of the last seconds before Rian Thal and Timothy Gilmore were gunned down inside The Navona. It also shows how the gunmen got into the complex.
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The gunmen who killed suspected drug dealers Rian Thal and her friend, Timothy Gilmore, may have traveled here to carry out the hits and left as soon as they were done, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It's one of the theories police are pursuing as they investigate Saturday's double murder inside an apartment building that's part of the trendy Piazza at Schmidt's complex in Northern Liberties.

If they were outsiders, it could be why the men were so brazen they didn't bother to hide their faces. One of the suspects, the first man who followed a tenant into the building, left his fingerprints in the lobby.

"We developed a significant amount of prints throughout the apartment complex," Homicide Capt. James Clark told The Daily News.

You can see all the places he touched very clearly on the surveillance videos police released late Monday. They show how the men got into the complex, into position for the ambush and how they calmly left after the shootings.

The security cameras also show Rian, 34, and Gilmore, 40, seconds before they were gunned down. They get off the elevator Saturday on the seventh floor of the Navona apartments where she lived, look around as though they heard or saw something, then continue down the hallway toward her apartment.

Seconds later, two gunmen came out of the stairwell by the elevator. A third was at the other end of the hall. A fourth was downstairs as the lookout. And a fifth man, who police say came to Philly with Gilmore, was sitting quietly inside Rian's apartment. After the two were shot and the gunmen made their getaway, police say the fifth man walked calmly over Rian's body and into the elevator with a duffle bag.

"He probably saw what happened to them and decided it was time to go," a law-enforcement source told the Daily News. "He's absolutely in their line of work."

Police don't know what was in the bag, but inside Thal's apartment they found four kilos of cocaine and $100,000.

That fifth man may have been Gilmore's Ohio roommate. The two came to town in a tractor-trailer Gilmore drove. Police suspect the trucking business was a front for Gilmore's drug dealing, according to the paper. They've impounded the truck, which was found near the Piazza, but didn't find any traces of cocaine inside.

Thal was an event planner and promoter, whose parties attracted up and coming hip-hop rappers, pro athletes and the city's top drug dealers, according to police. Sources told The Daily News she earned her way into dealing drugs with the big boys with her silence. Thal was kidnapped and robbed her in 2004 and when she was released, she refused to give up any information about her captors.

All five men are still on the run. Philly police may send the videos to the FBI in Quantico to enhance the images.

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