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Nearly a year since Julio Ramirez and John Umberger separately disappeared after nights out in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has pledged to fully investigate the cases.
Ramirez and Umberger disappeared within months of each other after nights out at LGBTQ+ venues in Hell’s Kitchen. Both men were later found dead of drug overdoses, their bank accounts had been emptied, sparking suspicion by both their families and authorities of a targeted robbery ring.
“It’s a series of events that is really troubling and deeply problematic,” DA Bragg said. He could not comment on the details of an open investigation, but added that his office was tirelessly working to bring those accountable to justice.
“It’s something that we are working on at the highest levels of my office, and we have had some charges announced,” DA Bragg added. Those charges were in respect of the murders of two Lower East Side clubgoers, although the alleged murderer and the other suspects are not thought to be connected to the Ramirez and Umberger cases. “We don’t want to bring charges prematurely,” said the DA. “We have an obligation to investigate and we want to be able to deliver accountability for the right people.”
It is not clear if the recent disappearance of CUNY law student Jordan Taylor is related to Ramirez and Umberger, but the trio of unsolved cases has left many Hell’s Kitchen residents increasingly fearing for their safety in the neighborhood’s many gay bars. Yesterday, NBC Out said in an exclusive story that three patrons of The Eagle NYC gay club in Chelsea had been incapacitated and robbed of thousands of dollars via facial recognition on their phones.
Ramirez, a 25-year-old mental health counselor, disappeared on April 21, 2022 after a night out in Hell’s Kitchen. He was last seen leaving The Ritz Bar and Lounge with three unidentified men (CCTV footage of the suspects has not been released to the public). The New Yorker was found dead early that morning in a Lower East Side taxi, and it was later discovered that $20,000 had been cleared from his bank accounts.
FULL COVERAGE OF FIGHT FOR JUSTICE FOR JULIO AND JOHN
Investigators initially classified the death as a singular accidental drug overdose, but Ramirez’s friends and family advocated for further investigation, citing the robbery as proof of foul play. An unsettling pattern began to emerge when authorities connected the case to that of political consultant John Umberger — also robbed and found dead of an overdose after a night out at Hell’s Kitchen club The Q just a month after Ramirez’s death. As the two cases made the news, dozens of other victims who were drugged but survived have come forward, suggesting a group targeting revelers at NYC’s LGBTQ+ establishments.
For the families and friends of Ramirez and Umberger, as well as the wider Hell’s Kitchen and LGBTQ+ community, closure can’t come soon enough.
“I have concerns over the priorities of the DA’s office and keeping those in NYC safe as those involved with John and Julio’s deaths are still out there,” said John Umberger’s mother Linda Clary. “It is also my understanding that things take time and they are working on the cases.”
DA Bragg said his office was aware of public anxiety over the still-unresolved cases and ensuring accountability and bringing peace of mind to the community was their mission. “We are working really hard and we understand the safety concerns,” he said. “We have a lot of depth in this office for this type of work and we are marshaling it.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of drugging or robbery at an LGBTQIA+ establishment and do not feel comfortable reporting the incident to the NYPD, please reach out to Katie Doran at the Manhattan DA’s office. Phone #: (212) 335-9291; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It will take a micro surgically intense analysis of all the security cameras in and around all the queer clubs and streets to figure this out to achieve justice.
The dudes that do this are experts in deception, but it will be figured out and they will be identified.
Here’s what I don’t get: if I wire money from one account to another, the government knows all about it. Who it went from, who it went to (unless we’re talking about cryptocurrency). Their money was wired out of their accounts. Do they investigators really not know where the money the was wired to? Can’t they find out? My heart aches for the families, and my friends in the LGBTQ+ community.
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