She had the kind of high-wattage smile and wholesome, all-American-girl look that one might expect from a beauty pageant winner. Rian Thal, 34, loved her cats and chocolate. (She tweeted about having a "foodgasm" from chocolate bread pudding.
Many had no idea that the bubbly party planner led a double life as a drug "holder" and dealer.
On June 27, two men took the elevator to the seventh floor of Thal's swanky apartment complex and shot Thal and her friend Timothy Gilmore in the head. Police say another shooter was waiting on the other side of the hall. The suspects then calmly walked out of the building.
How'd This Happen?
The murder -- a suspected drug deal or robbery gone awry -- has much of Philadelphia wondering how a nice suburban girl like Thal got mixed up in the drug scene. According to Jeff Deeney of the Daily Beast, it's a lot easier (and more common) than one might think.
"It's not as surprising as you'd think that someone like Thal, a reported casual coke user, would find herself being asked if she wanted to start participating in deals," Deeney writes, adding, "I, too, was asked if I wanted to get in on the game. Did I want to front five grand and go in on a niner? The question came up more than once."
Click here to read the rest after the jump.
These stories are nothing new -- a few years ago, the tabloids were abuzz with stories about Julia Diaco, an NYU student who was busted for dealing pot, coke and other drugs
. Wesleyan grad Tiesha Sargeant
worked for Credit Suisse and Conde Nast, but dated a drug dealer, a fact that led to her murder. Now Rian Thal is the latest poster child for middle-class suburban girl who hid a secret life of crime. Who Was the Real Rian Thal?
The 5-foot-4 blonde had previously worked as an exotic dancer and was once charged with possession of cocaine after police raided the strip club where she worked. Thal was previously convicted of smuggling methamphetamine into the United States after a trip to Amsterdam.
Then there was in the time in 2004 when Thal was kidnapped and robbed by drug dealers
. A law enforcement officer told the Philadelphia Daily News that Thal's refusal to identify her captors actually sped her rise from "hanger-on to one of the players" within the drug scene.
Apparently this petite party planner had
become a major player. For her birthday in April, Plush nightclub threw a double bash for Thal and Grammy-winning rap star James "Kamal" Gray. When police searched her swanky, seventh-floor apartment after her death, they found four kilograms of cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash
to read the latest in the case
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