Posted on April 4, 2023

Police Name Three Suspects in Connection to NYC Gay Bar Killings

Matt Lavietes, NBC News, April 1, 2023

Police named three suspects late Friday in connection to the homicides of two men who were drugged, robbed and killed in separate incidents following visits to New York City gay bars last year.

A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department said it is asking for the public’s assistance to find Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, Robert Demaio, 34, and Jacob Barroso, 30, who they believe are connected to the homicides of John Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant, and Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker. {snip}

Jacob Barroso, Robert Demaio and Jayqwan Hamilton

Jacob Barroso, Robert Demaio and Jayqwan Hamilton

Umberger and Ramirez were both found dead after visiting gay bars in the city’s lively Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood last spring. Both had left the bars with at least one unknown person before their bank accounts were drained of thousands of dollars {snip}

Last month, the medical examiner’s office ruled their deaths as homicides caused by a “drug-facilitated theft.” {snip}

A spokesperson for the NYPD also confirmed that Hamilton, Demaio and Barroso are suspects in a broader “citywide robbery pattern” that includes a total of 17 incidents. {snip}

Two law enforcement officials confirmed with NBC News on Wednesday that a Manhattan grand jury has indicted several suspects in connection with the deaths of Umberger and Ramirez. {snip}

The indictment alleges a pattern where the group of suspects would approach individuals outside of bars or nightclubs in Manhattan, engage them in conversation and then give or slip them drugs “for the purpose of causing their incapacitation.”

Once the victims were “incapacitated to the extent that their ability to perceive events became diminished,” the five co-conspirators would then steal their victims’ cell phones and credit cards and use the physical cards and information stored on the victims’ phones to transfer money to themselves {snip}

The two officials also told NBC News that the suspects are believed to be targeting victims for financial gain and not because of their sexual orientation. However, they added that the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is assisting in the investigation.