Woman arrested in Piazza killings

The woman lived in the building
July 2, 2009 8:32:26 PM PDT
A woman has been arrested in the killings of two people at an upscale apartment building in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.Party planner and suspected drug dealer Rian Thal and her companion, Timothy Gilmore, were shot and killed over the weekend in what police call an "ambush" inside the Piazza at Schmidt's apartment complex.

On Thursday afternoon police announced the arrest of Katoya Jones, 25, who lives in the building.

Investigators say Jones was not one of the shooters, but played a 'significant role' in the planning of the crimes.

Action News has learned she's the woman seen on surveillance video letting one of the gunman inside the building.

That video was released earlier this week.

Jones is charged with Murder, Conspiracy, Robbery, Burglary, Criminal Trespass and Possession of an Instrument of Crime.

RELATED SLIDESHOW: Moments before the Piazza killings
RELATED VIDEO: Surveillance footage from the Piazza killings

On the surveillance video police released, one suspect is seen gaining access by following Jones inside.

He wanders nonchalantly up on the second floor, comes back down and sits on a table before letting in two more accomplices. They take the staircase up to the 7th floor. A fourth suspect is a floor below keeping lookout. He eventually heads to the ground floor while the three shooters lay in wait in the stairwell.

"This is extremely organized. I mean here you have 4 guys all on cell phones together going up staircases. He's alerting them when the two decedents are on their way up," explained Captain James Clark.

Rian Thal and Timothy Gilmore finally get off the elevator. They suspect something is amiss. They peek outside the window then walk toward her apartment. The suspects emerge from the stairwell. Thal is shot once in the head. Gilmore is shot multiple times in the chest and body.

"Actually what you can't see, they're trapped because they have another shooter at the other end of the hallway. So it was very well organized."

Police say Thal is a big time drug dealer. They found four kilos of cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash inside her apartment. A source close to the investigation says Gilmore and a partner, both from Ohio, are believed to have been Thal's supplier. Gilmore's partner was actually inside Thal's apartment when the two were shot.

The source says unreleased video shows him leaving the apartment 10 minutes after the shooting with a large duffel bag. He walks over the bodies and out of the complex.

One angle police are pursuing: The shooters knew Thal was being re-supplied with coke and planned to rob her.

Police say both Gilmore and Thal are known to law enforcement. Court documents reveal Thal had been busted for drugs before in Delaware County.

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