A 25-year-old gay man died in April after he fell unconscious in a taxi following a night out at gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen — and then his bank accounts were allegedly drained days later, leaving his family and friends desperately searching for information about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
Julio Ramirez, a bilingual mental health counselor, left The Ritz — a gay bar at 369 West 46th Street — at around 3 a.m. on April 21 and waited alone around the front of the bar for about 12 minutes, according to NBC News. Ramirez’s brother, Carlos Ramirez, who has been in touch with authorities about the case, told NBC News that Julio Ramirez subsequently proceeded to walk with two other men around a corner, at which point a third man appeared. All four individuals entered a taxi, though it is not clear whether it was a yellow cab or a ridesharing taxi such as Uber or Lyft.
By 4:10 a.m., however, the cab reached the Lower East Side and Ramirez was the only one in the back seat. The driver told a police officer his passenger was not responsive and police officer and medics were unable to save Ramirez, NBC News reported. He was pronounced dead at 4:49 a.m.
It remains unclear what happened to the other unidentified passengers — including where or when they exited the vehicle. Those questions loom even larger in the aftermath of Ramirez’s death.
Ramirez had gone out that night with a friend, Carlos Camacho, and they made stops at a series of gay bars — Rise Bar, Mickey Spillane’s, and then The Ritz — but they did not end the night together. At 3:10 a.m., Camacho was in The Ritz while Ramirez stepped outside. Ramirez was looking for Camacho and sent his final text at 3:29 a.m. asking Camacho if he had gone home. Camacho confirmed at 3:45 a.m. that he went home. He invited Ramirez over to his home, but never received a response.
The signs of suspicion continued to arise in the following days. Ramirez, who always shared his phone’s location with another friend, Shiva Campbell, suddenly stopped sharing his location at 3:46 a.m. A new twist unfolded on April 25 when Carlos Ramirez went to his late brother’s apartment and noticed Julio Ramirez’s Apple iCloud password had been changed. He was still able to see emails, which revealed that Julio Ramirez’s savings — totaling around $20,000 — were spent through purchases and transactions through money-sharing applications such as Zelle.
Carlos Ramirez and his late brother’s friend, Karinina Quimpo, expressed concern to NBC News that Julio Ramirez could have been drugged with gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), but authorities have not mentioned that possibility.
The NYPD is not sharing many details about the case and would only tell Gay City News the “investigation remains active and ongoing.” No surveillance video footage has been released.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told Gay City News Ramirez’s “death remains under investigation” and that “the cause and manner of death are pending further study.”
Quimpo created a GoFundMe to raise funds for a commemorative bench dedicated to Ramirez in Buffalo, where he attended college. Nearly $2,000 has been raised so far.
Quimpo did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.