Deaths of 2 men drugged, beaten after night out in Hell's Kitchen ruled homicides

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Saturday, March 4, 2023
Deaths of 2 men drugged, beaten after night out ruled homicides
John Umberger and Julio Ramirez's deaths were ruled homicides after they were given drugs tainted with fentanyl after nights out in Hell's Kitchen. Josh Einiger has the details.

HELL'S KITCHEN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled on the deaths of two men who died after they were drugged and beaten following nights out at gay bars in Hell's Kitchen.

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

Ramirez, 25, was found dead in the back of a taxi 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 where he had been staying since he arrived in New York on business.

Umberger's mother, Linda Cleary, told ABC's Nightline that she knew something was wrong when she didn't hear from her son after Memorial Day weekend.

"People have been hurt, people are scared and afraid, this has gone on too long, it is clear to me from people who have reached out to me this has gone on since 2019," Bamberger's mother Linda Cleary said.

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The deaths of Ramirez and Umberger, first disclosed by their family members, brought to public attention 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.

"Once they started to look into it and saw it was happening over and over, that's when they realized something more was at work here," ABC's Aaron Katersky said on Nightline.

The investigation continues, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.

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Bob Kopta reported his wife, Patricia, missing in 1992. She was a Pittsburgh street preacher, also known as "The Sparrow."


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