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Suspect charged with murder in drugging & robbery of NYC gay man

Suspect charged with murder in drugging & robbery of NYC gay man
Julio Ramirez (left) and John Umberger (right) Photo: Screenshots

New York police have charged one man with murder in connection with a series of druggings and robberies that left two gay men dead last spring.

The New York Times reports that 30-year-old Jacob Barroso was arrested on Saturday and charged with the murder of Julio Ramirez. Barroso also faces charges of robbery, grand larceny, and identity theft.  

Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, was found dead in the back of a cab in the early hours of April 21, 2022. Security camera footage reportedly showed Ramirez leaving The Ritz Bar and Lounge, a popular Hell’s Kitchen gay bar, with three unidentified men an hour earlier and getting into a cab with them. His wallet and phone were missing, and family members said that $20,000 had been drained from his bank accounts.

Last June, another gay man, 33-year-old political consultant John Umberger, was found dead in the Upper East Side townhouse where he was staying, following a visit to another Hell’s Kitchen gay bar, the Q NYC with two unidentified people. Like Ramirez, Umberger was reportedly drugged and robbed of between $20,000 and $25,000, his credit cards were maxed out, and his phone was stolen.

Last week, the Times reported that several people had been indicted in connection with the crimes. NYPD documents reportedly describe Ramirez and Umberger’s murders as part of the same pattern of robberies in which victims were drugged and incapacitated. Perpetrators then used facial recognition features on the victims’ phones to access their accounts and stealthier money.

Barroso is the third suspect to have been arrested in connection with the robberies. Last June, Andre Butts was arrested and charged with using Ramirez’s credit card. Last week, Shane Hoskins was charged with robbery, identity theft, grand larceny, and conspiracy.

The Manhattan district attorney described Hoskins as being “part of a crew” linked to Ramirez and Umberger’s murders. So far, Barroso is the only suspect to be charged with murder in either case.

Following news coverage of Ramirez and Umberger’s deaths, more than a dozen men came forward with similar stories of being drugged and robbed after visiting gay bars around the city. According to police documents, the perpetrators targeted both straight and gay bars throughout the city and appeared to be motivated by money rather than bias.

Though no one had been charged in her son’s death yet, Umberger’s mother Linda Clary said that she felt the case was “moving in the right direction.”

“I am very thankful that progress in the case is being made,” she said. “I am relieved some of the suspects have been arrested, and I hope the final ones will be arrested too.”

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