As they approach the first holiday season without their loved one, friends and family of Julio Ramirez have launched a seasonal fundraiser for a memorial bench dedicated to the New Yorker who died in mysterious circumstances in April after a night out in Hell’s Kitchen. 

Julio Ramirez Snow Central Park
Julio Ramirez playing in the snow in January with friends in Central Park. Photo via Julio Ramirez’s Instagram

The 25-year-old mental health counselor and regular Hell’s Kitchen visitor living in Bushwick, Brooklyn when he disappeared after being seen early the morning of April 21 at The Ritz on Restaurant Row on W46th Street near 9th Avenue. Security camera footage purportedly showed Julio leaving the Hell’s Kitchen venue with three unidentified men, getting into a cab headed downtown.

Julio stopped responding to texts and sharing his location with his family and friends before he was discovered unconscious hours later by police officers near Ludlow and Stanton Street. He was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel where he was declared dead and officials managed to contact his family. Since then friends and family have fought for answers, but have been met with silence.

A tree ornament raising money for a memorial to Julio Ramirez
Julio Ramirez’ friends are raising funds to dedicate a bench in his memory in Buffalo, where he studied for a master’s degree. Photo: Karinina Quimpo

Now his friends are focusing on marking his “First Heavenly Christmas” by fundraising with customized ornaments so they can memorialize Julio with a bench upstate in Buffalo, where he studied for a master’s degree. “Julio was a festive guy and loved decorating for Christmas,” his friend Karinina Quimpo told W42ST.

“Like any classically great friend, Julio was a genuinely thoughtful gift giver and always put other people first. He hand-wrote Christmas cards expressing his gratitude for the person he was writing to. To this day I’m so thankful to have these special written messages. One of my favorite memories is when Julio created a Christmas wreath with pictures of Reese Witherspoon for his dorm. He called it his ‘Wreath Witherspoon’. Julio always found a way to make Christmas even more magical,” she said.

“For his first Heavenly Christmas, we are honoring him with these custom ornaments.100% of the profits will help us fund more Julio-themed projects, including his commemorative bench in Delaware Park.” She added that while the campaign had raised $5,000 for Julio’s commemorative bench, they were hoping to clear the additional costs to finalize the tribute. 

Karinina said: “Julio is buried on Long Island and I wanted a place for loved ones in Buffalo to visit him. I met Julio in Buffalo, NY where the bench will be erected. During and after college at the University at Buffalo, Julio made an impact in every community he was involved in. He called it home. I watched Julio grow from a shy and eager freshman into a confident and shining professional in Buffalo. Our goal is to have a bench in peaceful Delaware Park by Hoyt Lake to permanently hold his name.”

Moments Silence Ritz Bar
In June, Hell’s Kitchen locals and Julio’s friends followed a call for justice with a moment’s silence outside Ritz Bar, which he left before getting into a taxi with three men, before he was discovered unconscious on the Lower East Side. He was taken to hospital but declared dead. Photo: Phil O’Brien

A cloud of suspicion has surrounded the young man’s death, the cause of which remains under investigation by the NYPD and the District Attorney’s office. Julio’s family believes that he was targeted — in the days following his death, his bank accounts were drained of as much as $20,000.

Julio Ramirez Ritz Bar
Julio Ramirez with friend Karinina Quimpo. Ramirez was found dead after leaving Ritz Bar and Lounge on Restaurant Row. Photo: Karinina Quimpo

The Hell’s Kitchen and LGBTQIA+ community at large have repeatedly demanded answers in the yet unsolved case, holding a rally this summer to urge accountability for the crime and promote safety among queer spaces. In August, W42ST Publisher Phil O’Brien wrote to state Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Erik Bottcher to ask for answers.

W42ST reached out Thursday to the NYPD and DA’s offices for further updates, as well as to District 3 City Council Member Erik Bottcher’s office. Bottcher told W42ST: “We still have so many unanswered questions regarding what happened to Julio the night of his death and what is being done to bring closure to his friends and family. Justice for Julio not only means bringing those responsible to account but also getting answers to those who loved him and feel his loss every single day. I hope the District Attorney’s office will be able to provide an update soon.” The NYPD and DA’s offices have not responded to our request for comment. 

Justice for Julio Letter from W42ST

And as their first Christmas without Julio draws ever nearer, Karinina Quimpo said, “We are all grieving Julio in different ways. I want to celebrate Christmas with his memory in mind the entire time. I know it will be challenging, but setting up this fundraiser with Julio’s Ornament has been helpful for me. Extending his legacy has been a reliable coping skill so far.”

Julio Ramirez Mom Christmas
Julio Ramirez at home with his mom last Christmas. Photo via Julio Ramirez’s Instagram

She added, “Julio’s parents and brother will be traveling to El Salvador in December, understandably not wanting to have a Christmas without Julio at all. I cannot imagine the pain they are experiencing. The true commonality is that Julio will be indescribably missed.”

Join the Conversation


  1. My heart breaks for all who knew and loved Julio. Donating to support his memorial bench for sure ❤️

  2. It’s not that nothing is being done… I wonder if it’s that [not saying the establishment] aren’t completely cooperating for reasons we don’t know but they do in fear of the repercussions.

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