A police department spokesperson said Sunday that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder of at least one of the two men who were drugged and killed in separate incidents after visiting New York City gay bars last year. from New York.
Investigators said Jacob Barroso, 30, was charged with murder, robbery, grand theft and conspiracy in connection with the death of 25-year-old social worker Julio Ramirez and a separate incident in which an unidentified victim did not die. police.
Ramírez and John Umberger, A 33-year-old political adviser was found dead after visiting gay bars in the city’s bustling Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood last spring.
According to their relatives, both had left bars with at least one unknown person before draining thousands of dollars in their bank accounts via facial recognition access on their phones.
Last month, the coroner’s office ruled that their deaths were caused by a “drug-facilitated robbery.” Numerous drugs were found in their system, including fentanyl, lidocaine, and cocaine. Barroso has not been charged in connection with Umberger’s death, and it is unclear who is responsible for his death.
Barroso’s arrest on Saturday came shortly after police sought public assistance on Friday to locate him and two other suspects, Jayqwan Hamilton (35) and Robert Demaio (34) who are believed to be relatives. with murders.
Two law enforcement officials confirmed last week with NBC News that the Manhattan grand jury had indicted multiple suspects in connection with the deaths of Umberger and Ramirez. Prosecutors said one of the suspects, Shane Hoskins, was charged with gross theft and identity theft. It is unclear whether Barroso, Hamilton, and Demaio are three of the other defendants, as parts of the indictment remain closed.
According to one indictment, when victims were “incapacitated to the point where their ability to perceive events was impaired”, five collaborators would steal their victims’ cell phones and credit cards and use physical cards and information stored on the computer. Web site. victims’ phones to transfer money to them and make purchases.
The two officials also told NBC News that the five suspects sought their victims for financial gain, not because of their sexual orientation. However, they added that the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force assisted with the investigation. In the months after the deaths of Umberger and Ramírez, more gay New Yorkers came forward with accounts eerily similar to those of Ramírez and Umberger. NBC News spoke to several gay men who said they had survived similar incidents from December 2021 to October 2022.
New York police had previously confirmed with NBC News that there were several criminal groups that committed such crimes against men who visited the city’s gay bars. Police also confirmed similar crimes had been committed against patrons of bars without any LGBTQ affiliation.
Last week, the New York City Office of Medical Examiners also confirmed that it was investigating “several additional deaths in conditions similar to those of Ramirez and Umberger.” However, it is not clear whether they were found dead after visiting gay bars or whether they were linked to the accused suspects.
A spokesperson for the coroner’s office said they “cannot comment further due to ongoing forensic investigations”.
The two law enforcement officials also told NBC News that there was a separate group suspected of committing similar crimes on 26 victims. Fashion designer Kathryn Marie Gallagher, whose death was ruled a drug-facilitated murder by the coroner’s office in July, was one of the group’s later victims, authorities said.