Police ID 3 suspects wanted for fatally drugging men at NYC gay bars

The NYPD has identified and released photos of three suspects wanted for the murders of two men who were fatally drugged after nights out at gay nightclubs in Hell’s Kitchen last year.

Jayqwan Hamilton, 35, of Brooklyn; Robert Demaio, 34, of Brooklyn; and Jacob Barroso, 30, of Manhattan were indicted last week with murder over the deaths of John Umberger and Julio Ramirez.

The trio, along with three other suspects, also face charges of grand larceny, robbery and conspiracy to drug and rob in connection to at least 17 incidents throughout the city between September 2021 and August 2022, police and sources said.

Umberger and Ramirez died after they ingested a deadly cocktail of drugs while out partying in Hell’s Kitchen’s vibrant LGBTQ neighborhood last spring. 

Both died as a result of “acute intoxication” from a mix of fentanyl, cocaine, ethanol and other drugs, the city Medical Examiner found on March 3. 

John Umberger was found dead in an Upper East Side apartment building in May.

The Medical Exam iner concluded that the two men were victims of homicides caused by “drug-facilitated thefts,” after leaving the Q NYC and Ritz Bar and Lounge gay nightclubs in separate incidents.

NYPD Detective Randy Rose connected the deaths to a string of robberies by a gang operating in the area’s gay clubs that was drugging victims and using mobile cash apps to siphon tens of thousands of dollars from their bank accounts.

Umberger, political consultant from Washington D.C., vanished on Saturday, May 28, 2022, after a night out at The Q NYC, a gay nightclub at 795 Eighth Ave, while visiting New York for work. 

Julio Ramirez
Julia Ramirez was found dead in the back of a taxi in April.

Records show his credit card was last used at the club around 3 a.m. An hour later he was spotted on surveillance camera with three men in a car outside of the Upper East Side apartment where he was staying.

Four days later, his body was found in a fifth floor of the E. 61st Street townhouse, which is owned by conservative attorney Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice — where Umberger worked as director of diplomacy and political programs.

Umberger’s cell phone and credit card were missing. Over $25,000 had been transferred out of his accounts through apps like Venmo and Paypal.

Jayqwan Hamilton, Robert Demaio, and Jacob Barroso, are wanted for murder.
[from left] Jacob Barroso, Jayqwan Hamilton and Robert Demaio are wanted for Umberger and Ramirez’ murders.

Just weeks earlier on April 21, Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, was found dead in the back of a taxi on the Lower East Side at about 4 a.m. 

He had been at the Ritz Bar and Lounge, a gay club on West 46th Street that is just two blocks from Q NYC. Ramizerez was spotted on security camera leaving the bar with three men.

Like Umberger, Ramirez’ phone and wallet were missing, and his bank accounts had been emptied of about $20,000 via apps such as Venmo and Zelle; later his credit cards were maxed out on expensive dinners and spa services.