Chilling cases of men found dead after leaving New York City gay bars ruled homicides

Side by side photos of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger. Both men died from drug overdoses and were robbed after visiting popular gay venues in New York City

The deaths of two men who were drugged and robbed after leaving gay bars in New York City have been ruled as homicides. 

The New York City chief medical examiner’s office said Friday (3 March) that the deaths of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger were caused by a ‘drug-facilitated theft’. 

Both men died from drug overdoses after being seen leaving popular gay night spots in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood with strangers. 

In both cases, there were fraudulent charges made on the victims’ credit cards, and tens of thousands were drained from their bank accounts. 

Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, was discovered dead in a taxi in the early morning hours of 21 April 2022 after cameras caught him leaving the Ritz Bar and Lounge and entering a taxi with three unidentified men. 

He was found without a phone and with fraudulent charges on his credit card. Ramirez’s family said that approximately $20,000 was stolen from his bank accounts. 

You may like to watch

Five weeks later, Umberger was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in the New York City townhouse where he was staying. 

Surveillance video showed him leaving The Q NYC, a popular LGBTQ+ nightclub, with two unknown men on 28 May 2022. 

Footage recovered from buildings in the area showed Umberger exiting a car with the men, according to The New York Post. The men entered the townhouse with Umberger and left without him about 45 minutes later. 

Someone using Umberger’s phone and credit cards stole more than $25,000 from his accounts, the victim’s mum said. 

In November, the New York City Police Department announced detectives were investigating a string of robberies and assaults linked to night sports in the city, and they believed the deaths of Ramirez and Umberger could be connected

The police department spokesman said in a statement on Friday that the deaths were “currently under investigation” as part of “several incidents where individuals have been victims of either robberies or assault”.

“Some of the victims are members of the LGBTQIA+ community; however, it is believed that not all of the victims are,” the spokesman said. “It is also believed that the motivation for these assault/robberies is monetary gain.”

The medical examiner’s office said both Ramirez and Umberger had been killed by the same cocktail of drugs: a mixture of cocaine, lidocaine, ethanol, heroin, fentanyl and p-fluoro fentanyl.