A bizarre case involving slain Trill Fam artist Lil Phat has added an alarming new development. Police in Atlanta say they have three of four suspects wanted in the murder of the rapper. One of the accused is a former Russian mobster who prosecutors say ordered a hit on the rapper, a past Webbie and Lil Boosie collaborator, in order to silence him. ABC affiliate WSB-TV Channel 2 covered the story after originally exposing Mani Chulpayev, the mobster who was the center of a Channel 2 investigation of a car business he owned back in January. Because of that special report, police reopened the Lil Phat case and tied together past evidence which showed that the rapper was one of Chulpayev’s past customers. District Attorney Paul Howard said that Lil Phat, born Melvin Vernell III, was assassinated.
“I termed it an assassination,” said Howard to WSB-TV. The shooting happened June 7, 2012 inside the parking structure of Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Lil Phat was waiting on the birth of his child inside a parked Audi A7 on a parking ramp when he was gunned down by two men who fled the scene on foot, according to witnesses. Howard says the rapper purchased the Audi from Chulpayev and he was located by way of a GPS tracking system. Howard’s office is accusing the mobster of ordering a contract killing with the aid of two paid gunmen from Alabama. “He was stalked by these two men, it was planned,” added Howard.
Two days before he was killed, Lil Phat alerted police that a leased BMW he got from Chulpayev was stolen. Last April, Lil Phat was pulled over for speeding and charged with receiving a stolen car. Howard contends that Lil Phat was killed to keep the rapper from unveiling Chulpayev’s shady business dealings. Chulpayev was arrested by a SWAT team in Florida on April 12, and his attorney says that his client “grieved” after heating news of Lil Phat’s death last year. Chulpayev will be transported soon to Atlanta to hear the formal charges.