Nearly four months after his mysterious disappearance and death, and on what would have been his 26th birthday, Julio Ramirez’s case remains unsolved — but family and friends remain hopeful for answers surrounding the young man’s untimely end.
The 25-year-old New Yorker disappeared early the morning of April 21 after being seen leaving the Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell’s Kitchen with three unidentified men, only to be discovered dead in the back of a taxi cab hours later, his bank accounts emptied.
He is remembered as a warm and generous mental health counselor who had his whole life ahead of him. “Julio was, and is still, our bright light,” said the Ramirez family in a recent statement. “We still need justice for Julio. Please continue to share his story. Please keep his memory alive. Please continue to say his name.”
Karinina Quimpo, one of Ramirez’s closest friends who has been tirelessly advocating for movement in the case passed on a statement about the investigation: “Detectives working on Julio’s case have reassured the Ramirez Family that the case is ongoing and that they are working hard to bring Justice for Julio. We are confident that these professionals are doing their jobs and are remaining patient and hopeful.”
Quimpo, who has led vigils and rallies in hopes of raising awareness of the case, wrote recently of the toll it had taken on her after months of unanswered questions. “I’m learning that grief comes in waves,” she said. “I felt like I was on fire the first two months after losing him, and now I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I don’t want to talk about it as often anymore because it hurts too much.”
Surveillance footage from the Ritz showing three unidentified men with Ramirez shortly before he died but the tapes have never been released to the public. The families of several other Hell’s Kitchen clubbers reached out to PIX11 News in late July, alleging that a group of men is repeatedly targeting local revelers by drugging and robbing them.
W42ST has contacted the NYPD multiple times since Ramirez’s disappearance and have received the same responses: “No updates” and “The investigation remains ongoing”. In response to publisher Phil O’Brien’s letter on July 21 imploring elected officials to find justice for Julio, the offices of City Council Member Erik Bottcher and State Senator Brad Hoylman released the following statement:
“Our offices are in frequent contact with the NYPD to demand justice for Julio and updates on the investigation. While the NYPD says it continues to actively investigate this case, Julio’s family, friends and our community have lost patience with the lack of progress. We’re pressing the NYPD for updates and information that can be shared publicly.”
The office of City Council Member Erik Bottcher added the following as Ramirez’s birthday approached: “There are no words for the pain and grief that Julio’s loved ones must be feeling today as they celebrate his life — without justice having been served for his death. While I’m grateful that the NYPD have had greater communication with Julio’s family, the outstanding questions surrounding his death are unacceptable. His family and friends deserve to know what happened to their son, their brother, and their friend. And the people of Hell’s Kitchen deserve to know that they are safe from those involved in Julio’s death. I understand that one suspect in this case is being charged with grand larceny and my office has reached out to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for more information and to ensure that they are in contact with Julio’s family. I will continue to press the NYPD for more information and answers in this case.”
As his loved ones wait for answers, they made sure to honor Ramirez’s memory on what should have been a joyful weekend of celebration. “On Saturday August 13, close friends and family gathered at The Ramirez home to celebrate Julio’s First Heavenly Birthday,” Karinina told W42ST.
Many in the group wore “Long Live Julio 2022” t-shirts. “‘Long Live’ is a song by Taylor Swift that reminded us of Julio. We sang it together at his house during a prayer service in his honor. We got these shirts made for our first Pride without Julio. He loved the retro look so we chose a colorful retro font,” said Karinina.
“We helped Julio’s family plant a commemorative garden around a tree that Julio planted himself in their front yard. During the family prayer, a white butterfly entered the garden and lingered a while, reminding us that Julio’s memory and legacy remains with us. It was a beautiful experience. We ended the day at Pinelawn Cemetery to pay our respects where Julio is buried. We talked about our favorite memories of him,” she added.
“On his birthday this year, we ask that anyone that knew Julio takes the time to think of him. As painful as it is to celebrate without him, we take great comfort in knowing how loved he was. He would have turned 26 years old. He was a young man with a full heart and he will never be forgotten.”