The deaths of two gay men in New York City were homicides, according to the city's medical examiner.
Last year, Julio Ramirez and John Umberger were found dead and had their bank accounts emptied. Both had gone to bars and had last been seen with several men.
Authorities confirmed the deaths as homicides on Friday, NBC News reports.
New York’s chief medical examiner’s office said that the two were killed by “drug-facilitated theft.”
Twenty-five-year-old Ramirez was a social worker. His body was found in the back of a taxi after he left the Ritz Bar and Lounge with some men on April 20, 2022. Ramirez’s family said about $20,000 dollars had been taken from his bank accounts.
His death was due to “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine, and ethanol," authorities said, NBC News reports.
Umberger, 33, was found about a month later after he and a couple of men left the Q, a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen. He too died from “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, cocaine, lidocaine, and ethanol."
His bank accounts were also drained of about $20,000, according to his mother, Linda Clary. Clary has called on local authorities to raise awareness over the killings and the dangers to the LGBTQ+ community in New York.
“The NYPD at first presented to us that John was robbed while at a club and was so depressed that he went home and did a bunch of drugs,” she told the New York Times. “But I was like: ‘No, that’s not what happened. John would not have done that.’ And now we know.”
The New York Police Department has confirmed thefts at gay bars that resemble both Ramirez’s and Umberger’s cases.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a statement to NBC News that the investigation is “ongoing.”
A police department spokesperson told the Times, “Some of the victims are members of the LGBTQIA+ community; however, it is believed that not all of the victims are,” adding, “It is also believed that the motivation for these assault/robberies is monetary gain.”
“We demand justice for the people who murdered Julio Ramirez and John Umberger,” New York City Council member Erik Bottcher told NBC News. “As we approach the one-year anniversary of their murders, the pain experienced by their families, friends, and our entire community has only been exacerbated by the fact that their killers have not been brought to justice.”