Police arrest suspect in Hell’s Kitchen druggings, robberies that left 2 men dead

Police have arrested one of three suspects sought in a string of druggings and robberies at Manhattan nightclubs that have left two men dead.

Jacob Barroso was arrested on Saturday and charged with murder, three counts of robbery, identity theft, and other related charges, officials say.

Last week, the NYPD released new photos of the men they are looking for.

Investigators say there have been 17 cases so far around New York City that may be related to one another.

The 2022 deaths of John Umberger and Julio Ramirez were ruled homicides after they were given drugs tainted with fentanyl.

Ramirez, 25, was found dead last year in the back of a taxi and his bank accounts were drained after a night out at Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell’s Kitchen.

Umberger, 33, was found dead later in the year inside the East 61st Street apartment where he had been staying since he arrived in New York on business.

Umberger’s mother, Linda Cleary, told reporters that she knew something was wrong when she didn’t hear from her son after Memorial Day weekend.

“It is a crime that is lucrative, there are very little legal consequences for it,” said Clary. “It’s the perfect crime and New York created the perfect environment for this crime to flourish and that is going to change.

She said she does not want her son’s death to be in vain.

Police have linked 17 drug-aided robberies to the Umberger/Ramirez pattern between 9/19/21 and 8/28/22.

In this pattern, the drunk victims are offered tainted narcotics or marijuana at a bar. Once the drugs take effect, they are robbed of their cell phones and large amounts of money are transferred from the victims’ bank accounts.

Another 26 robberies are linked to a similar but separate pattern between 3/18/22 and 12/8/22.

A grand jury is now empaneled to look into the death of 35-year-old Kathryn Marie Gallagher, a fashion designer discovered dead in her Lower East Side home last July. Her death was ruled a homicide last week and could be part of a specific pattern, as well.

33-year-old Kenwood Allen, was previously charged in the drug-facilitated deaths of two other men and is now being looked at for a possible role in Gallagher’s death.

Multiple suspects are still being sought in both patterns, although they are loosely knit robbery crews and no one person is believed involved in all incidents. The two patterns appear completely unrelated.

Although the patterns first gained public attention following the two deaths connected to Hells Kitchen gay bars, the patterns involve a mix of both straight and gay bars, and of both heterosexual and LGBTQ people.

“People have been hurt, people are scared and afraid, this has gone on too long, it is clear to me from people who have reached out to me this has gone on since 2019,” Umberger’s mother Linda Cleary said.

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