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Fashion designer Katie Gallagher's death ruled a homicide 8 months later

Manhattan fashion designer's overdose death declared a homicide
Manhattan fashion designer's overdose death declared a homicide 02:00

NEW YORK -- Fashion designer Katie Gallagher's loved ones spent eight months not knowing what happened before her lifeless body was found in her bed at her Manhattan apartment. 

Friday, investigators said they ruled Gallagher's death a homicide. 

Gallagher, 35, designed fashions that made it into Vogue and Glamour magazines. Her creations were worn by stars including Lady Gaga and Laverne Cox

Gallagher's sudden death in July 2022 shocked her neighbors on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side.

"Everybody knows this lady," said Eddie Ling, who works in a bike shop on the ground floor of the building. 

The medical examiner found fentanyl mixed with other drugs in Gallagher's system. Investigators are trying to determine if she was slipped a toxic cocktail of drugs in order to steal from her. 

Police are investigating a string of cases with similar details - drugged victims who wind up robbed, hospitalized and, in some cases, dead.

READ MORE: Police investigating pattern of Manhattan bar patrons being drugged, robbed; 2 deaths possibly linked to incidents

Police sources tell us there are believed to be multiple crews running similar schemes, targeting and drugging victims in Manhattan bars before robbing them.

Gallagher, a Pennsylvania native, is survived by her parents and sisters. They set up a GoFundMe which has raised more than $30,000 so far to complete and display her final fashion collection. 

Watch Dave Carlin's report

Overdose death of fashion designer classified a homicide 02:12

"During that period of time before it's declared a homicide, the family is left in limbo. There's all these open questions," said New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher. 

Bottcher wants to raise public awareness of drug-facilitated thefts and groups of criminals targeting bar patrons.

"The word is out that you can victimize someone and you can access their bank accounts electronically in ways that you couldn't years ago, with the banking apps that can be opened with facial recognition," said Bottcher. 

"A lot of people get targeted and they don't even know," said Nia Mapp, a Queens resident. "I would hope that it would bring more awareness to the situation since it happens to a lot of people that we just don't know about." 

"They are out there preying on innocent people who are going out to just enjoy a night out on the town. We have to make it clear, if you commit these crimes you will be apprehended," said Bottcher.

According to police, Julio Ramirez, 25, and John Umberger, 33, died last year from deadly drug cocktails slipped to them in order to rob them. Their deaths were also declared homicides earlier in March.

READ MORE: Deaths of 2 men who were drugged in Hell's Kitchen bars ruled homicides

"My concern is that as we go on, that the reality is there are many more deaths that have come from these groups, from this very thing," said Linda Clary, Umberger's mother. "What are we doing to stop this from continuing to happen? ... We don't want anyone to hurt like we are hurting because it's so unnecessary."

In a statement, Gallagher's family told CBS2: "When we think about the callous disregard for her life and all that she would have done or could have done had this not happened, our hearts break all over again."

It is unknown what, if anything, was stolen from Gallagher or where she was before her body was discovered. 

Gallagher's sister told CBS2 the family is planning a remembrance ceremony in the city in May. 

Anyone with information about Gallagher's death is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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