New York City’s medical examiner has ruled that the 2022 deaths of two gay men were homicides.
In two separate incidents, Julio Ramirez and John Umberger were found dead with their bank accounts emptied after leaving Hell’s Kitchen gay bars with unidentified strangers.
Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, was reportedly found dead in the back of a cab in the early hours of April 21. Security camera footage showed Ramirez leaving The Ritz Bar and Lounge with three unidentified men an hour earlier and getting into a cab with them.
His wallet and phone were missing, and family members said $20,000 had been drained from his bank accounts. His cause of death was initially listed as a “possible drug overdose.”
Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant in the city for a work trip, was found dead on June 1 in the East 61st Street townhouse where he was staying. According to Clary, surveillance footage showed him leaving the Q NYC with two unidentified people four days earlier.
A toxicology report found the numbing agent lidocaine and fentanyl in his system. Between $20,000 and $25,000 were reportedly drained from Umberger’s accounts, his credit cards were maxed out, and his phone was stolen.
Police reportedly continue to investigate whether these murders are connected to other crimes involving robbery or assault in Hell’s Kitchen.
According to NBC News, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner ruled both deaths were homicides due to “drug-facilitated theft.
The office said Ramirez died due to “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine and ethanol” and that Umberger’s death a month later was caused by “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, cocaine, lidocaine and ethanol.”
Hell’s Kitchen lies in the district of out gay New York City Council member Erik Bottcher, who has called for justice for the victims’ families in the wake of the medical examiner’s report.
“We demand justice for the people who murdered Julio Ramirez and John Umberger,” Bottcher told NBC News. “As we approach the one-year anniversary of their murders, the pain experienced by their families, friends and our entire community has only been exacerbated by the fact that their killers have not been brought to Justice.”