In a series of killings and robberies at Manhattan gay bars that have terrorized the city’s L.G.B.T.Q. community and brought attention to the use of drugs to incapacitate, rob, and kill, the New York Police Department announced on Sunday that a man had been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the crimes.
The medical examiner called the April 2018 death of social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, from a drug overdose a “drug-facilitated theft,” and on Saturday, police in New Britain, Connecticut, arrested a man named Jacob Barroso, 30, and charged him with Ramirez’s murder.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office reported that Mr. Barroso had been charged with robbery, grand larceny, and identity theft but had not been arraigned as of Sunday night.
Mr. Ramirez’s death, along with that of John Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant who was tragically drugged and robbed in May, sparked widespread discussion about the prevalence of similar drug attacks in the city’s nightlife and sparked alarm among the city’s L.G.B.T.Q. population.
Shortly after Mr. Ramirez and a group of guys left The Ritz, a homos*xual bar in Hell’s Kitchen, his body was found in the back of a taxi on the Lower East Side, according to his relatives. After leaving the Q, another Hell’s Kitchen bar, Mr. Umberger vanished and was discovered dead five days later.
Both deaths were attributed to fentanyl-containing drug combinations, according to the medical examiner. The families of Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Umberger also used facial recognition software on their mobile devices to find fraudulent withdrawals from their loved ones’ bank accounts.
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On Sunday, we reached out to the Ramirez family for comment, but we didn’t hear back from them. In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Umberger’s mother Linda Clary claimed that the investigation was “moving in the right direction,” despite the fact that no one had been arrested for her son’s murder.
“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.”
Mykonos is now welcoming families, so bring the kids. Other suspects have been indicted in recent weeks for their roles in Mr. Ramirez’s and Mr. Umberger’s robberies and murders. Mr. Barroso is the first individual to be charged with murder in connection with any of these robberies, and he is the third person to be arrested and charged in connection with the robberies.
Andre Butts, another guy, was arrested and accused in June of last year for allegedly using Mr. Ramirez’s credit card hours after his death to purchase two pairs of Nike sneakers. Mr. Butts bought them in a SoHo shop for $544.38. On Sunday, his attorney, Terrence J. Grifferty, declined to comment.
Robbery, identity theft, grand theft, and conspiracy were all included as charges against Shane Hoskins last week. Sarah Batool Musa, who represents him, did not return a call seeking comment on Sunday. Mr. Hoskins was “part of a team” responsible for drug dealing, robbery, and the murders of Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Umberger, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The indictment against Mr. Hoskins was largely sealed on Sunday, but the part that was made public detailed the alleged methods of assault by the team. According to the indictment, the attackers “administer dangerous and illicit substances to them for the purpose of causing their incapacitation.” while their intended victims were drinking in bars.
A first arrest has finally been made in the drugging murders that have terrorized gay men in my neighborhood here in New York City. My city council rep @EBottcher says he believes that justice is finally being done. pic.twitter.com/0nNis7a6xn
— Benjamin Ryan (@benryanwriter) April 3, 2023
They then stole phones, credit cards and other property, “once those individuals were further intoxicated and incapacitated to the extent that their ability to perceive events became diminished, and that they were unable to recall or recount those events.”
The New York Times reviewed internal police papers that revealed two parallel heist patterns targeting local pubs. According to the papers, the attackers appeared to be motivated by money rather than intolerance, and they went after establishments that served both gay and straight customers.
The city’s close-knit L.G.B.T.Q. the community has been hit especially hard by the crimes because its members tend to attend or at least be familiar with a small number of bars whose names are often known throughout the city.
The crimes occurred against a gloomier backdrop for the town as a whole, which has been dealing with a monkeypox outbreak and a more divisive national political climate over the past year. According to the papers, the robbery and murder of both Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Umberger followed a similar pattern.
The victims were usually drunk men who had their phones stolen. The criminals thereafter utilized the stolen mobile devices to wire huge sums of money to their own bank accounts. More than a dozen additional men who were drugged at Manhattan gay clubs, robbed, and left for dead, often in their own destroyed apartments, have been questioned by The Times for its reporting on the murders of Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Umberger.
No one knows for sure what is being used to render people unconscious. Yet, other guys hypothesized that they had been drugged with GHB, a so-called “date rape drug” that is widely available in New York and used recreationally by some gay men in modest amounts.
According to doctors, medications used in date rape have a limited half-life in the human body and are therefore difficult to detect in laboratory settings. The Justice Department reports that GHB is not detected in the vast majority of standard drug and toxicology tests.
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