Gay man dies in taxi just an hour after leaving bar with three strangers: ‘We lost him too soon’

Julio Ramirez is seen smiling at the camera while wearing a black and red jacket with a white shirt and wearing black rimmed glasses

Young gay Latino man Julio Ramirez was found dead in the back of a taxi after a night out at a gay bar – and his family has revealed that his bank accounts were emptied days later. 

Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, met with a friend in New York City’s popular Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood on 20 April, according to NBC News. Their final stop was the Ritz Bar and Lounge, a popular gay venue, but Ramirez got separated from his friends in the early morning hours of 21 April.

A nearby security camera caught Ramirez getting in a cab with three unknown men at 3.17am, his brother Carlos told the outlet. Less than an hour later, the cab driver approached a police officer in Manhatten’s Lower East Side neighbourhood – just three miles away from the gay club – to say that Ramirez was unresponsive in the back seat. 

The 25-year-old was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 4.49am and his initial cause of death was listed as a “possible drug overdose”, a police source told NBC News. But the medical examiner told the outlet that Ramirez’s official “cause and manner of death are pending further study”, which could take a few weeks. 

An investigation is underway as major questions about Ramirez’s death are unanswered more than a month later.

Carlos described how he tried to call his brother on 21 April and found it weird that Ramirez’s phone appeared to be off. He said that he found out that his brother had died the next day after a frantic call from his girlfriend, who told him to ring his father. 

“My dad said, ‘This is really hard, but Julio is dead,’ and he just started crying,” Carlos recalled. “I just lost it. Wow, I couldn’t believe it yet. That was just the worst day of my life.”

Carlos described how he logged into his brother’s laptop just three days later and he noticed that the Apple iCloud password had been changed. He was able to access Julio Ramirez’s emails when he noticed a string of weird money transfers. 

Carlos said that his younger brother’s bank accounts were emptied between the day he died and 25 April through purchases on apps like Apple Pay and Zelle.

“They had literally taken every dollar that he had, all his savings and all of his money,” Carlos described. 

He added that approximately $20,000 was taken from his brother’s accounts and that neither his wallet nor phone were on Ramirez after he died. 

Carlos – who hadn’t seen the security footage himself but was told about it by investigators – believed his brother might have been drugged and robbed in a targeted attack. Neither the police nor the medical examiner have confirmed if Julio Ramirez was drugged before his death. 

Ramirez’s friend, Kari Quimpo, said in an Instagram post on 9 May that his “story needs to be solved and heard”, pleading for “justice for Julio”. 

“We urge you to raise awareness on the death of Julio Cesar Ramirez, to give a voice to gay Latino men who are victims of the crime in this city and to seek justice for the loved ones he left behind,” she wrote. 

“Julio’s story needs to be heard.”

She also set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for a commemorative bench for Ramirez to be created through the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy – a non-profit in Buffalo, New York.

Quimpo said that Ramirez’s loved ones have already raised $1,000 and just need to cover the remaining $4,000 to place a bench in Delaware Park by Hoyt Lake or on Bidwell Parkway, “near where we used to live on Elmwood”.

She said that Julio Ramirez “loved Buffalo and was loved in Buffalo” as he undertook both a dual bachelor’s degree and a dual master’s degree at the University at Buffalo. 

“We lost Julio too soon,” Quimpo wrote on GoFundMe. “With the investigation still ongoing, Julio’s friends and family take comfort in doing whatever we can to help his memory live on.”