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.
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.
background to the cases of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger
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.
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.
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