Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg joined Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell today to announce the arrest and indictment of the final suspect in the Julio Ramirez and John Umberger murder cases. The two men were last seen alive in Hell’s Kitchen in spring of last year.
The DA’s office announced the arrest of Jayqwan Hamilton, 34, in addition to the previous arrests of Robert Demaio, 34, Jacob Barroso, 29, Andre Butts, 27, and Shane Hoskins, 30, who are charged with drugging and robbing at least 17 victims at bars and restaurants around the city — including Ramirez and Umberger, who died as a result of their assaults.
“Our entire city continues to mourn the tragic losses of Mr Ramirez and Mr Umberger,” said District Attorney Bragg at the conference. “In addition to the pain their deaths have caused for their family and loved ones, I know many other New Yorkers have feared for their own safety when going out to meet up with friends. I am grateful to our professional and dedicated team for their hard work, along with the detectives at the NYPD who were outstanding partners throughout this entire investigation.” He encouraged anyone who has been victim to similar incidents to reach out to the office’s hotline at 212-335-9040.
“Our hearts go out to the families of John and Julio — we know how traumatic this can be,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “We’re hoping that these arrests can bring some sense of justice and bring about a conviction and bring about a message that is loud and clear – that those who bring violence to our city at any level will receive the same level of aggressiveness to bring them to justice, and that is what we did today.”
Ramirez, 25, and Umberger 33, disappeared and were found dead within weeks of each other in the spring of 2022 after spending the evening in Hell’s Kitchen. Ramirez, a mental health counselor living in Brooklyn was found dead after leaving the Ritz Bar on April 21 2022 with three unidentified men. Upon his death, his bank accounts were drained of at least $20,000 and purchases were made using his credit cards. On May 26 Umberger, a DC-based political consultant who had visited now-closed Hell’s Kitchen Q nightclub, went missing and was eventually found dead on June 1 with $25,000 taken from his accounts.
Both deaths were initially ruled accidental overdoses, but the families and friends of Ramirez and Umberger urged investigators to consider their deaths a result of foul play – citing testimonies from other surviving victims as proof of a crime pattern. In March, the Medical Examiner’s office classified both deaths as homicides, adding that the two men were killed by a lethal dose of fentanyl, p-fluoro fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine and ethanol.
The Manhattan DA’s office told W42ST earlier this year that they were dedicated to finding closure for all the victims of the targeted crime ring, having previously made arrests in the unrelated drug and robbery murders of two Lower East Side clubgoers late last year.
For Hell’s Kitchen lawmakers, Tuesday’s announcement was an important milestone in a long and uneasy period for the area’s LGBTQIA+ community. “Hell’s Kitchen and the LGBTQ community can breathe a sigh of relief with the arrest of the ringleader of the violent crew who killed and robbed Julio Ramirez and John Umberger,” said Assembly Member Tony Simone. “I’m grateful for the efforts of the NYPD in this arrest and for keeping my office and our community informed throughout this investigation, as well as to the DA’s office for securing indictments against six gang members who made up this crew. Violent criminals who prey on the innocent must always be held fully accountable.”
“Although these arrests will not bring back Julio and John, they are a step towards justice for their families and loved ones. I hope this sends a message far and wide that if you victimize our community, you will be apprehended and you will be held accountable,” added City Council Member Erik Bottcher. “We must continue to work together as New Yorkers to combat violence and seek justice for victims. I want to thank Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the NYPD for their work on these cases, and I send my deepest sympathies to families and loved ones of Julio and John. Let us honor their memory by working towards a safer and more equitable society for all.”