Law enforcement officials have identified three suspects believed to be behind more than a dozen incidents involving the drugging and robbery of patrons leaving Manhattan gay bars.

Jacob Barroso, Jayqwan Hamilton, and Robert Demaio
The three suspects wanted by police — Jacob Barroso, Robert Demaio and Jayqwan Hamilton. Photos: NYPD

The suspects are 35-year-old Jayqwan Hamilton, 34-year-old Robert Demaio and 30-year-old Jacob Barroso, and all three are believed to be a part of what officials call Robbery Pattern 188.

The breakthrough is a critical push forward in the case to find justice for Julio Ramirez, 25, and John Umberger 33, who both disappeared and were found dead within weeks of each other — each after having spent a night out in Hell’s Kitchen. The Medical Examiner’s office recently 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.

Ramirez, a mental health counselor living in Brooklyn, went missing early the morning of April 21 after leaving the Ritz Bar on Restaurant Row in Hell’s Kitchen with three unidentified men. He was later discovered dead in the back of a taxi on the Lower East Side, his bank accounts drained of at least $20,000. Five weeks later, DC-based political consultant Umberger was discovered dead after last being seen at The Q nightclub on 8th Avenue. Umberger was also robbed of $25,000.

Despite initial reports of the deaths as accidental drug overdoses, both Ramirez’s family and Umberger’s mother Linda Clary pushed officials to consider the deaths homicides as a result of robbery. As the investigation progressed, dozens of other surviving victims came forward, suspecting they were also targets of a crime ring. The Manhattan DA’s office made arrests in the murders of two Lower East Side clubgoers late last year, though the suspects were not believed to be connected to the Ramirez and Umberger cases.

Law enforcement officials say that Robbery Pattern 188 is responsible for at least 17 robberies in Manhattan, primarily in Hell’s Kitchen and the Village, and may be linked to the deaths of Ramirez and Umberger, as well as several other incidents. The leading theory is that the victims were targeted for money, rather than their sexual orientation. However, officials said the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the potential bias factor.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation known as Robbery Pattern 90 is believed to involve a different crew that has robbed 26 people. The medical examiner’s office has suggested that the death of acclaimed fashion designer Kathryn Marie Gallagher in July 2022 may be linked to this pattern. Gallagher’s death was also determined to be drug-facilitated, resulting from a combination of alcohol, fentanyl, ethanol and p-fluorofentanyl.

The killings appear to be part of a string of people fatally poisoned with narcotics in what investigators say were schemes by criminal crews to incapacitate and rob customers at NYC bars and nightclubs. Officials said that men surreptitiously slip revelers dangerous levels of drugs to knock them out, then take their wallets and phones, sometimes using their digital banking info to drain accounts. Officials have said that at least five people have been killed in this way, stretching back nearly a year and seemingly through the work of different crews.

Justice for Julio
Family and friends held a candlelit vigil after Julio Ramirez’s death. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Last week, Shane Hoskins was charged with two counts of grand larceny and one count of identity theft for allegedly drugging and stealing over $500 from two individuals in April 2022. Prosecutors have linked Hoskins to a group of men responsible for the fatal overdoses of Ramirez and Umberger. The indictment suggested that Hoskins and four others would approach intoxicated individuals outside bars or nightclubs in Manhattan, drug them to incapacitate them, and steal their cellphones and credit cards to make unauthorized purchases. Hoskins was arrested in August and re-arrested on upgraded charges, including robbery and conspiracy. According to NBC News, his bail was set at $50,000.

At least four of the six people indicted in connection to the alleged acts have been arrested, but no arrests have been made in regards to the murders so far. The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information on the robbery patterns is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

UPDATE: On Sunday afternoon, the New York Daily News reported that Jacob Barroso had surrendered to police.

We have closed comments on this post. We welcome debate and differing points of view, but things got a little out of hand.

26 replies on “Three Suspects Identified in Connection with Deadly Druggings at Gay Bars”

  1. These murders were the inevitable result of the gay drug crowd normalizing predatory drugging in gay bars. Gay bars are not now and have never been safe spaces, that is a myth propagated by the owners and managers, and more recently by the media. A lot of the remaining gay bars let the drug dealers in decades ago to stay solvent. When I worked in a gay bar in college we were told specifically to keep the dealers out, I noticed over a decade ago that complete strangers would approach me asking me if I wanted to buy drugs. My partner and I stopped going to them years ago due to the excessive amount of aberrent drug behavior. At least in straight bars if you see something you can say something without fear of retaliation. It is unfortunate that Julio and John were unaware of this, but it is a too well kept dirty little secret. Young men go to these bars looking for friends and community but they are no longer there. I am glad New York is finally doing something about this and gay men there can now hopefully report and the police will take it seriously. Hopefully other cities will follow suit.

      1. Don’t be myopic, this has been happening all over the country, not just in New York. The bar owners are denying this happens and promoting the drug culture of the bars because they are making money off of it. The last thing that anyone that this has happened to is going to debate is their bar tab.

    1. This is a sad, myopic and completely inaccurate statement. Not sure how many decades ago you went out or where but this is not what the majority of the scene is or has been like in my 20 years of enjoying gay bars all over the country.

      1. see the comment above, this was actually meant for you. Gay bars have never been great but they are especially vile today due to the over drug use. Young men have a right to be warned about them before they go to them. If Julio and John had known what they were up against they would be alive today.

    2. I hope no one takes these crackpot comments from DHT seriously. I worked in gay bars in the 90s. I’m now in my 50s and sober so I rarely go to bars nowadays, but still go to some drag shows and I know plenty of people who work in nightlife. I’ve known folks who did drugs, both gay and straight, from casual users to full blown addicts. I’ve known drug dealers both gay and straight. I’ve known bar owners both gay and straight. No one – and I mean no one – thought it was ok to drug other people.

      1. Google his username and you’ll see he’s been flogging his weird conspiracies for years. He’s been fixated on druggings and his bizarre vision of gay bars long before Julio and John were robbed and murdered. He’s latched on to John and Julio’s murders to continue advancing his obsession, no matter how insensitive and cruel it is to do so. But it’s par for the course for him. On Reddit, he makes similarly distasteful, off-topic comments when there’s school shootings (also caused by the shadowy gay “drug crowd,” in his “mind.”) Furthermore, he is in DC–or the DMV area, as he sometimes puts it–and is not part of the Hell’s Kitchen community. May we soon be rid of him.

        1. Why don’t you stay off of my posts and stop trolling me. You’re clearly either a dealer or a user, or you have some other vested interest in promoting the status quo of gay night life. You know exactly what I’m writing about so in the very least your an enabler.

          1. You are trying to preserve your income stream and actually care nothing about what happens to young gay men.

        2. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! You’re deranged and obsessed. Maybe those drugs that they slipped you caused permanent damage.

          1. Yes, right, this was just a one-off…all 50 times in Hell’s Kitchen. And you continue to troll, so who is the cuckoo?

          2. You’re the troll–and the cuckoo! Why not start your own “drug crowd” blog, and leave a grieving community to deal with these losses, rather than try to bend the conversation to your bizarre fixation that has been going on for years? Go. You’re not wanted or valued here. Get on a commuter train and go to some DC bar and take on the drug crowd there.

          3. The only grieving your doing is your loss of income. In the very least you’re enabling murder, of these two and so many others. Drug dealers are serials killers and they should get the death penalty.

      2. “No one”? Apparently the groups of guys in these articles disagree with you and so don’t a lot of the guys in the chemsex crowd. It is a public health nightmare and leaves little doubt as to why the addiction levels are so high among gay men.

  2. The only thing that happened different here than what happens all across the country in the gay bars is that you had the Ramirez’ and Linda Clary, the families of two gay men who were naive to the ways of men in the bars. These families knew that what the medical examiner originally tried to convince them of is not what happened to their sons. It is interesting that despite approximately 50 men in New York alone have come forward saying that this happened to them, you have so many commenters here and on other sites saying that this doesn’t happen. The only reason that they are doing so is because they profit off of this one way or another. Drug crowds have taken over the bars all over the country, gay bars have never been especially safe spaces, but now they are actually very dangerous.

    1. Please stop with your stupid idiotic insensitive comments. You clearly don’t live here and have a vendetta.

      1. I don’t think of raising awareness about a public health issue as having a vendetta. If speaking out about predatory drugging increases your sensitivity, I think then that must be something about you. Also, I lived in New York long enough and have enough family there to feel comfortable commenting. People like you are the ones that ignore what’s going on are the ones that created this environment, and that isn’t idiocy.

  3. Thank you W42ST for letting everyone comment , & write about how they feel, with no ” cancel culture “. The last I heard, this is still the USA … with freedom of speech . DHT has his comments & many will agree with him, and many have opposite ideas , & they are allowed to comment as well. Many will agree with them . I loved reading both sides. Great article … Great responses . I live right by the ” Ritz ” on 46th street ( Restaurant Row ) & very happy these ‘ thugs ” , YES THUGS , are being held , and , in my small opinion NOT enough BAIL was set . Thank you .

      1. Something you know well. I am sure you have seen a lot of young gay men with their eyes rolling in the back of their head as they overdose. Honestly, why don’t you just come out as a drug dealer and tell us how you can defend this behavior?

  4. Aside from these comments, one would have to be totally insane and either have been drugged or drank tainted drinks or on drugs and be weak minded to communicate with those 3 animals in the photos!

    If Magnitude opens on 11th Ave we will see and hear ambulances and police cars constantly picking up the overdoses in the doorways.

      1. Lol, that wasn’t me…now you’re trolling other people as well. You must be getting desperate to sell your G. I understand, how else are you going to support your habit?

        1. Yeah… you got me. It’s me, Maureen Taft. Queen of the Drug Crowd. You’re pathetic and an interloper. Go home.

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