MANHATTAN (WABC) -- At least 43 druggings, with seven fatal overdoses, are linked to two separate patterns of robberies in and around Manhattan clubs, dating back to Sept 2021.
After last year's deaths of 33-year-old John Umberger and 25-year-old Julio Ramirez in Hells Kitchen were deemed homicides earlier this month, prosecutors obtained indictments from a grand jury late last week for six people believed connected.
Police are now looking for the men, with plans to charge at least two of them with second degree murder. Other charges would include robbery, identity theft, grand larceny and conspiracy
Following the grand jury indictment last week, authorities are now looking to round up these people on the elevated charges. None has been arrested so far.
One, 28-year-old Andre Butts, was previously charged last June for using Ramirez's credit card to buy two pairs of Nike sneakers for $544.38 just hours after he died.
Police have linked 17 drug-aided robberies to the Umberger/Ramirez pattern between 9/19/21 and 8/28/22.
In this pattern, the drunk victims are offered tainted narcotics or marijuana at a bar. Once the drugs take effect, they are robbed of their cell phones and large amounts of money are transferred from the victims' bank accounts.
Another 26 robberies are linked to a similar but separate pattern between 3/18/22 and 12/8/22.
This is a more violent pattern with suspects offering tainted drugs to victims in clubs before stealing money, jewelry and cell phone for money transfers. Some of the robberies are straight up brute force street muggings outside or near clubs for jewelry and cash.
Frequently the suspects unlock the victims' phone using facial recognition and attempt to max out the their bank accounts and credit cards, spending as much money as possible before victims regain consciousness and change the passwords.
"It is a crime that is lucrative, there are very little legal consequences for it," said Umberger's mother Linda Clary. "It's the perfect crime and New York created the perfect environment for this crime to flourish and that is going to change.
She said she does not want her son's death to be in vain.
A grand jury is now empaneled to look into the death of 35-year-old Kathryn Marie Gallagher, a fashion designer discovered dead in her Lower East Side home last July. Her death was ruled a homicide last week.
Gallagher is one of the five deaths connected to that pattern. One suspect, 33-year-old Kenwood Allen, was previously charged in the drug-facilitated deaths of two other men and is now being looked at for a possible role in Gallagher's death.
Multiple suspects are still being sought in both patterns, although they are loosely knit robbery crews and no one person is believed involved in all incidents. The two patterns appear completely unrelated.
Although the patterns first gained public attention following the two deaths connected to Hells Kitchen gay bars, the patterns involve a mix of both straight and gay bars, and of both heterosexual and LGBTQ people.
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