The deaths of two men who were found robbed and drugged after leaving gay bars in New York City's Hell's Kitchen last year have been ruled as homicides, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported Friday.
Both men died of "drug-facilitated theft," the medical examiner said. The NYPD said in a statement that it is investigating.
John Umberger, 33, and Julio Ramirez, 25, died about five weeks apart last spring under similar circumstances, NYPD sources previously told CBS New York. Both men died after being seen leaving popular Hell's Kitchen gay bars with strangers, CBS New York reported.
Umberger, 33 — a Washington, D.C., political consultant who had come to New York City on business in May of 2022, according to CBS New York — died by acute intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine, and ethanol, the medical examiner said.
Ramirez, 25, also died by acute intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine, and ethanol, the medical examiner found.
Ramirez was found dead in the back of a taxi five weeks prior to Umberger's death, his family told CBS New York. They said that he was last seen on April 20, 2022, leaving the Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell's Kitchen with three unidentified men, and reported dead a day later. Ramirez was also found without a phone and with fraudulent charges on his credit card, his family said.
"Somebody drugged him to take his phone, to rob him. I mean, that is what happened. There is not a doubt in mind that's what happened," Carlos Ramirez, Julio's brother, told CBS New York last May.
Five weeks later, Umberger was last seen leaving the Q, a popular nightclub for gay men in Hell's Kitchen, with two men, his mother told CBS New York in an interview last November. She said police found him dead some days later inside the East 61st Street apartment where he had been staying. His cell phone was gone and his wallet cleared, CBS New York reported.
NYPD has been investigating "several incidents where individuals have been victims of either robberies or assault," an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News Friday.
"Some of the victims are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, however it is believed that not all of the victims are," the statement read.
— Ali Bauman contributed reporting.