NEW YORK (PIX11) – Jayqwan Hamilton, the final suspect wanted in connection with the 2022 robbery and drugging deaths of two men leaving gay clubs in Hell’s Kitchen, was apprehended Monday, according to two law enforcement sources.
Members of the NYPD Violent Felony Squad seized Hamilton, 35, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan more than two weeks after police released his photo and the pictures of two other suspects accused of being his accomplices.
Hamilton, the alleged ringleader, was expected to be charged with felony murder in connection with the drugging death of Brooklyn social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, who was found dead in the back of a cab on April 21, 2022. Ramirez, who had a dual Master’s degree from the University of Buffalo, was last seen getting into a taxi with three men outside The Ritz Club on West 46th Street.
Ninety minutes later, Ramirez was dead of an apparent overdose. His family discovered that $17,000 had been cleaned out of his bank account.
Hamilton was also expected to be charged with felony murder in connection with the drugging death of political consultant John Umberger, 33, who was last seen leaving The Q on Eighth Avenue on May 28, 2022. Surveillance video showed Umberger being led by two men to a car outside The Q. Other footage showed men going with him into a townhouse owned by Umberger’s boss on East 61st Street. Umberger had $22,000 cleared out of his bank and credit card accounts. He was found dead several days later during a wellness check.
Both Ramirez and Umberger had a fatal mix of fentanyl, lidocaine, and other drugs in their systems, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Umberger’s mother, Linda Clary, went public with his story in November and demanded quick action by the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. When Clary learned of Hamilton’s arrest on Monday, she told PIX11 News:
“I am relieved and grateful for the hard work and commitment of NYPD Detective Randy Rose and the many others at NYPD who worked so hard to make the arrest of Jayqwan Hamilton possible. It is my hope that everyone in NYC is at least a little safer, especially the LGBTQ community. This is a marathon and not a sprint. The trial process is next.”
Clary was hoping to make it to New York City from her home in the south for Hamilton’s arraignment.
Police have said various robbery crews have been targeting clubgoers in Hell’s Kitchen and Lower Manhattan, drugging them and then robbing them — often by using facial recognition technology on their smartphones. At least seven people have been killed by fatal overdoses, with more than 40 robberies tied to the crews since the fall of 2021, police said.
Police said fashion designer Katie Gallagher, who had dressed the likes of Lady Gaga and Laverne Cox, was one of the victims last summer. Two other male victims were found in the Bronx.
Jacob Barroso and Robert Demaio were accused of murder and robbery in the Hell’s Kitchen cases in early April. Both men turned themselves in to police a short time after their photos were released to the media.