Mourners held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night in Midtown for Julio Ramirez where he was last seen before being found dead in the back of a taxi earlier this year.
A sorrow-filled crowd gathered outside 369 West 46th St. with candles in hand to lament the loss of the 25-year-old social worker who died under mysterious circumstances on April 21.
Ramirez was bar-hopping with a friend in Hell’s Kitchen when he parted ways with his pal at the Ritz Bar and Lounge. He was seen in security camera footage leaving with three unknown men during the early hours of the morning.
According to sources, Ramirez joined the men in the back of a taxi, but was later found in the cab unresponsive after the other men had left. The driver flagged an officer in the Lower East Side, but Ramirez was unable to be revived.
Both Ramirez’s wallet and cellphone were missing, leaving him briefly unidentified. According to vigil organizers, up to $20,000 had been withdrawn from his savings after his death.
Over a month later, family and friends are scrambling for answers in what has become a deeply disturbing and emotional mystery. Among these is close friend Karinina Quimpo, who met Ramirez in college. Quimpo states the circumstances continue to baffle her, believing drugs were not involved.
“I also know that the initial toxicology was negative for any drugs. So, there is a secondary toxicology that’s pending. I don’t know how long it takes. But we’re waiting for answers,” Quimpo said. “A couple of days after Julio’s death, his brother, Carlos, went into his laptop to try to find some answers. And he discovered that thousands of dollars were transferred out of Julio’s account after his death. And you know, that was very suspicious. He brought that to the detective and from what I understand they’re working on that.”
In support of Ramirez, who was a gay man, members of the LGBTQ+ community arrived at the Wednesday night vigil in large numbers to demand answers and accountability in the strange case. The gathering marched with lit candles and signs from the Ritz Bar and Lounge to Times Square in solemn silence.
“This is Pride Month, and we have to be absolutely aware of our surroundings and we need to treat each other like family. We need to speak up and say something when individuals are most vulnerable,” demonstrator Chris LeBron said. “Over the last six weeks we have not said Julio’s name. Finally, we’re talking about him.”
Despite the emotional difficulty of the vigil, it is hoped that the raised awareness will prompt someone with answers to come forward and help ease the pain with a revelation regarding the matter.