Deaths of 2 men that were drugged, assaulted at gay nightclubs ruled as homicides

John Umberger and Julio Ramirez were given drugs laced with fentanyl.

March 3, 2023, 4:33 PM

The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Friday on the deaths of two men who died after they were drugged and beaten at gay nightclubs in Hell's Kitchen.

The 2022 deaths of John Umberger and Julio Ramirez were ruled homicides after they were given drugs tainted with fentanyl, according to police.

Ramirez, 25, was found dead in the back of a taxi on April 21, 2022, and his bank accounts were drained after a night out at Ritz Bar and Lounge.

Umberger, 33, was found dead inside the East 61st Street apartment on June 1, 2022, where he had been staying since he arrived New York on business. More than $200,000 had been stolen from Umberger’s phone and credit cards, according to his mother Linda Clary.

PHOTO: People walk past customers sitting at tables outside the Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell's Kitchen, June 22, 2020, in New York.
People walk past customers sitting at tables outside the Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell's Kitchen, June 22, 2020, in New York.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The deaths of Ramirez and Umberger were first disclosed by their family members. It brought public attention to several patterns of druggings and robberies, some involving members of the gay community, that resulted in as many as seven overdose deaths.

The medical examiner’s determination the deaths were homicides now allows detectives and prosecutors to begin pursuing charges against the suspects who are under investigation in other, similar, deaths.

Previously, Kenwood Allen was charged in two similar but at this point unconnected deaths.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said that the investigations will continue.

Clary told "Nightline" last year of the anguish she felt after she learned of Umberger's death.

"It's the worst phone call that any mother can ever get and ever want to get," Clary told ABC News. "It's the greatest pain and anguish of anything."

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