Police have identified three suspects charged in the murders of two men who were robbed and fatally drugged last year in Manhattan after they visited gay nightclubs in New York City.
The suspects are Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, and Robert Demaio, 34, of Brooklyn as well as Jacob Barroso, 30, from Harlem.
Investigators on Friday released the men’s photos after a grand jury indicted them last week on charges of murder, robbery, grand larceny and criminal conspiracy in the deaths ofJulio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, and John Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant, the New York Daily News reported.
In a statement reported by the outlet, the NYPD’s chief of detectives, James Essig, explained the suspects’ alleged methods, saying, “They go up to a male victim, they offer some sort of laced narcotics, and then they rob him of his phone.”
The suspects are accused of then emptying the victims’ bank accounts.
Last April, Ramirez was found dead in a taxi after surveillance cameras caught him leaving a nightclub in Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood known for its nightlife. Ramirez was seen entering a taxi with three other men at about 3.15am.
At 4.10am, the taxi driver approached a police officer to report that Ramirez, who was alone in the taxi, was unresponsive. Ramirez was pronounced dead at a hospital less than an hour later and according to his family, his phone had been taken, its password changed and $20,000 was taken from his bank account.
In a similar situation just a few weeks later, Umberger was visiting the city when surveillance cameras caught him leaving with two men from a nightclub and entering a car. His body was discovered four days later inside his boss’s East Side home.
According to Umberger’s mother, his credit cards were maxed out and about $20,000 was transferred out of his bank accounts.
The local chief medical examiner’s officer determined in March that the two men died from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine and ethanol”.
The deaths of Ramirez and Umberger follow a string of robberies and druggings across the city’s nightclubs. In recent months, numerous victims have come forward about their experiences.
In one instance, 33-year-old Oscar Alarcon said that he was drugged in March 2020 and woke up on the floor in a hotel in midtown Manhattan with $2,000 drained from his bank account.
Authorities last month said that the fatal fentanyl overdose of a 35-year-old fashion designer, Kathryn Marie Gallagher, who was found dead in her Lower East Side apartment last July, was a homicide, New York Daily News reports.
According to the medical examiner, Gallagher, who previously worked with celebrity clients including Lady Gaga, Chrissy Teigen and Laverne Cox, died from “acute intoxication” as a result of a combination of fentanyl, ethanol and other drugs. Her fatal intoxication followed an “attempted drug-facilitated theft”, an NYPD source told the outlet.
It remains unclear if Hamilton, Demaio and Barroso are at all linked to her death. The New York Daily News, citing law enforcement sources, reported that each of the men has prior drug-related arrests but did not elaborate on the outcomes of those cases.
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