The stakeout on Rian Thal's Northern Liberties apartment began almost 24 hours before she was killed, and involved dozens of phone calls between the alleged mastermind and those who helped him carry out the ambush of the popular party planner, according to court papers.
Between June 25 and the evening of June 27, when Thal, 34, and her alleged drug associate Timothy Gilmore were killed in what police said was a botched robbery, Will Hook made 36 calls to accused triggerman Donnell Murchison, according to an arrest report.
In that same period, Hook made 64 calls to Robert Keith, who police said helped Hook break into an empty apartment they believed to be Thal's at the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties.
And during that same two-day span, Hook called his friend Katoya Jones at least 40 times, according to Hook's arrest report. Jones has been charged with murder; she allegedly let Murchison and others into Thal's building. Thal and Gilmore were killed a short while later.
Hook's phone records, as well as extensive video surveillance from inside and outside the ritzy Navona building where Thal lived, "reveal a broad conspiracy involving eight or more individuals," according to the arrest report.
Those phone calls, combined with Hook's presence at the building at certain times, "are clear indicators that [Hook] participated in and orchestrated the entire sequence of events that led to this double murder."
Hook, who also has gone by the name Keith Epps, also made 88 calls during those two days to a man named Vernon Williams, according to the report. It is not clear how Williams may be related to the investigation.
Philadelphia Police Lt. Philip Riehl, who has led the investigation into the shootings, would not comment on the phone records yesterday, but said the records were one of many components of the investigation.
"There's so much evidence in this case," he said.
Seven people have been arrested in connection with the deaths, and police have indicated that as many as five more could face charges.
Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner yesterday denied a motion for bail filed by Hook's attorney, Christopher Warren. After reviewing documents submitted by prosecutors, including the arrest report, he said there were ample reasons to hold Hook until his court appearance next month.
Warren said yesterday that the phone records do not prove that Hook had anything to do with the deaths.
"Phone records show contact between two particular phones," he said. "They're useless without someone to interpret them."
Thal, a nightclub party planner who police said also worked as a drug dealer, had four kilograms of cocaine and more than $100,000 in her apartment when she was killed. Police have said she and Gilmore, who lived in Ohio and possibly worked as her supplier, were cornered outside Thal's seventh-floor apartment and shot by gunmen who intended to rob her.
According to the report, the video surveillance and phone records show that at least eight people began monitoring Thal's apartment at 9 p.m. on the night before her death, staking out the sixth and seventh floors of the building and talking on phones.
According to the police report, indoor security cameras captured Hook inside Thal's building shortly before 4 a.m. June 27, when police said he mistakenly broke into an empty apartment that he believed was Thal's. Hook was seen on camera entering the building with a woman and a man, presumably Jones, who lived on the building's second floor, and Robert Keith, 27, who has been charged with attempting the break-in with Hook.
The cameras caught Hook walking in the direction of the sixth-floor apartment directly under Thal's, where the break-in occurred.
Later that day, the alleged gunmen were seen inside the building, first talking with Thal, and later hiding in the stairwells around Thal's apartment.
Thal and Gilmore were ambushed around 5:30 p.m. that day, with Thal killed first. Police have indicated that cameras captured Gilmore as he tried to run and was shot.
In addition to Murchison, 33, police have arrested Edward Daniels, 42, and Antonio Wright, 28, saying they are the other gunmen on the video. Langdon Scott, 26, was charged with acting as a lookout. Keith has been charged with burglary.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have declined to comment on their involvement with the case, but Murchison and Keith are being held in a federal detention center, according to records. Federal gun charges have also been filed against Keith in the alleged carrying of a weapon during a burglary this year.