In the days after Rian Thal and Timothy Gilmore were gunned down outside Thal's Northern Liberties apartment in June, Thal's neighbors told police they were used to seeing a constant stream of people going in and out of Thal's door. Some even used their own keys.
Even when Thal wasn't there, she had visitors "always, all through the day and night," one neighbor told police. Another neighbor and his wife saw "a lot" of men open Thal's door using keys.
Thal, 34, and Gilmore, 40, were shot June 27 in what police have said was a drug robbery gone bad. Police say they believe the crime was set up by Will "Pooh" Hook, a convicted drug dealer who allegedly sent three gunmen into the building to ambush the pair. Eight have been arrested in connection with the killings.
Thal, a local party promoter, had four kilograms of cocaine and more than $110,000 in her apartment when she died. Police have described her as a drug dealer, and some law enforcement sources have also said she used her apartment as a "stash house," where other dealers stored drugs.
Thal lived in the Piazza at Schmidts complex for only a few weeks before her death, but neighbors had already complained about the noise from her apartment, according to statements the building's manager gave to police.
Thal's guests sometimes locked themselves out while she was gone and then asked for help getting back in through a terrace shared by the two apartments, a next-door neighbor said.
"They would ask to go through my apartment to get to the terrace and then go into her apartment," the neighbor said.
One of Thal's frequent visitors was Leon Woodard, 40, of South Philadelphia, who told investigators he was at Thal's apartment an hour before her slaying.
Woodard, who has not been charged in the case, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to the transcript of a police interview, he said he was a friend of Thal's and knew Gilmore through her.
Woodard had a key to Thal's apartment and knew the security code to get into her building, according to the statement he gave police. He visited several times a week, he told police, sometimes only staying a few minutes.
According to Woodard, he was not the only one making frequent trips to see Thal. He told police she "dealt with other people, too."
Gilmore, of Ohio, was a long-haul trucker who police said also worked as Thal's drug accomplice. He traveled to Philadelphia with trucker Edward Emerson in hopes of arranging a drug deal, according to Emerson, who was in Thal's apartment during the shootings.
According to Emerson, he and Gilmore drove into the city a few days before the shootings and parked their truck.
Gilmore got on the phone, apparently with Thal, Emerson told police.
"He was laughing and giggling, so I think he was talking to a girl," Emerson said. "He said someone was coming to pick us up."
That someone was Woodard, who pulled up in a rented Impala, Emerson said. He led them to Thal's building, then into her apartment. Thal wasn't home, Emerson told police.
Over the next few days, Emerson said, Woodard came into and out of Thal's apartment regularly to talk to her and Gilmore.
"Him, Timothy, old girl would go in old girl's room and talk for a while, and then they would come out and he would leave," Emerson told police.
Woodard told police he last saw Thal when he dropped by her apartment about 4:15 p.m. Saturday, about an hour before she and Gilmore were killed.
Authorities have said the gunmen who killed Thal and Gilmore might have believed Gilmore and Emerson were her suppliers and had dropped off a shipment of drugs. The gunmen opened fire when Gilmore tried to run, police have said. After the shootings, the gunmen left with nothing and never tried to get into Thal's apartment.
Emerson, who fled the building and the state after the shootings, told police that he believed Gilmore had been arranging a drug deal with Thal but that he did not know the details.
Emerson is jailed in Texas on a probation violation. Police say they do not believe Emerson was involved in the shootings.