Several defendants face charges in connection with murders and robberies at Manhattan bars that terrorized the city’s gay community, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
The homicides last spring drew wide attention to a danger that has long stalked New York's nightlife: the use of easily obtainable drugs to incapacitate, rob and sometimes kill.
John Umberger, 33, and Julio Ramirez, 25, were killed after they left bars in Hell’s Kitchen in what the medical examiner’s office ruled were murders committed in the course of “drug-facilitated theft.” After they died, the families of both men discovered that large amounts of money had been stolen from their financial accounts.
Their assailants had unlocked their phones using facial recognition. As public knowledge of the killings grew, more victims came forward to say they too had been drugged at gay bars in New York, and then robbed and left for dead.