The mother of a gay man robbed and killed under suspicious circumstances in New York City earlier this year broke her silence this week, calling out Manhattan’s new district attorney for refusing to prosecute her son’s alleged murderers, a gang suspected of preying on young gay men in Hell’s Kitchen.
Linda Clary told The New York Post District Attorney Alvin Bragg is dragging his feet on bringing charges against the suspected killers of her son, John Umberger, 33, of Washington D.C., who was drugged, robbed, and murdered after a night out visiting gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen this past May.
The same gang of men is believed responsible for the April death of Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, who also died under suspicious circumstances after being drugged and robbed in the area, and at least dozen more gay men who were also drugged and robbed.
“I can’t be quiet anymore. Word needs to get out, especially in the gay community, that they are targeting gay men,” Linda Clary told the Post, later adding, “This same group of killers have drugged, robbed, and murdered countless young gay men in New York.”
Umberger was last seen on Saturday, May 28, with three unidentified men on a security camera as they entered an Upper East Side townhouse where he was staying. He was earlier seen having dinner with friends at Tao Downtown in Chelsea, and then used his credit card around 3 a.m. at The Q NYC. Video showed the unidentified men entering the townhouse building with Umberger, and then leaving without him 45 minutes later.
Umberberger’s body was discovered June 1 in an apartment owned by the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative advocacy group run by Jay Sekulow, where Umberger was employed. Police discovered that his bank account had been emptied and that his credit cards had been used at local businesses. Attempts to empty his retirement account had been unsuccessful.
Another man also died under similar circumstances five weeks earlier. Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, was found dead in the back of a taxi early on the morning of Thursday, April 21. Like Umberger, his phone and wallet were missing, and his bank account was emptied of roughly $20,000. Like Umberger, he had earlier visited gay bars in the Hell’s Kitchen area, and postmortem toxicology reports showed that while both men died of drug overdoses, their blood also suggested they had been victims of spiked drinks also known as being “roofied.”
While Clary praised detectives investigating her son’s case, she had harsh words for Bragg, alleging he refuses to prosecute her son’s killers. The district attorney’s office has been suffering a staff shortage and a significant crime increase in recent months, and many assistant district attorneys have resigned in protest of Bragg’s policy of downgrading felonies and refusing to seek prison sentences for some serious crimes. Others have called out Bragg for not warning the local LGBTQ+ community a gang of serial killers may be preying on them, and letting crime run rampant in the city.
“Alvin Bragg created a criminal-friendly environment without repercussions that even Snake Plissken [protagonist of the 1981 film “Escape From New York”] would approve,” Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The Post. “If Bragg keeps going unchecked, the next sign you’ll see hung in Manhattan won’t be ‘Gun Free Zone,’ but ‘We’re Closed for Business.’”