A 33-year-old man has been charged with five drugging deaths in New York City, including a fashion designer who worked with Lady Gaga.
The Manhattan District Attorney said Kenwood Allen was part of a drugging and robbery scheme in the city.
He was charged with killing designer Kathryn Gallagher, 35, who was found dead in her bed by her neighbour last July. She had no visible injuries, The Daily Beast reported.
Her apartment door was open with the keys in the lock when she was found. The medical examiner said she died from “acute intoxication” from a mix of drugs.
Mr Allen is accused of three more murders besides the two he was already charged with last year.
He is said to have drugged his victims with fentanyl and other opioids, alone or with others, and robbed them of their credit cards, watches, phones, and more. He denied the charges on Wednesday.
He also used their cards to withdraw cash and make purchases, authorities said.
The Manhattan DA said he robbed and drugged 21 people in total, killing five of them, between March and December last year.
The three new murder charges are for incidents that happened on 22 July, 23 July, and 6 August last year.
The court indictment has 10 murder counts, 13 robbery counts, two attempted robbery counts, 11 assault counts, three grand larceny counts, three drug possession counts, and one conspiracy count.
The murder counts are for killing with depraved indifference and for killing while committing another crime.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg said: “These alleged drugging and robbery schemes have killed too many people. Our prosecutors and the NYPD have charged this individual with five murders – four in 15 days last summer. We will keep working with our law enforcement partners to uncover and investigate these incidents.”
The Manhattan DA said “Allen mostly used fentanyl and other opioids to drug his victims and steal their credit cards, watches, phones, and other personal information. Many of the victims were found unconscious on the street. He then used the stolen cards to get cash, buy things and transfer money”.
Vogue said Ms Gallagher was “a hands-on artisan” who was “independent and sure of her vision”. Her pieces have been worn by celebrities and ballet dancers.
“Katie started her own fashion line, Katie Gallagher, in New York City in 2010. She made 26 collections that showed in New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week,” her obituary said.
“She was unique, beautiful, smart, bold, and ambitious. She was hardworking and talented, with many ideas and plans for future projects,” her obituary said. “We are proud of who she was and what she achieved in her short but full and beautiful life.”
Police said the robbers used fentanyl in a white powder or in marijuana to drug their victims.
They targeted people who looked rich and came from Lower Manhattan clubs. They pushed them against a wall and took their belongings.
The NYPD’s James Essig said on Thursday that “they bum-rushed them,” The New York Times reported.
Mr Allen was charged with killing Mr Shera, Mr Berisha, Ms Gallagher, Mr Rudnitsky, and Mr Ahmed. Sean Shirley, 36, was charged with killing Mr Rudnitsky and Mr Ahmed. He faces murder, robbery, and grand larceny charges. He also denied the charges.
Prosecutor Brian Rodkey said in court that Mr Allen and Mr Shirley “robbed them, and left them on the street, not caring whether they lived or died,” The New York Times said.
The Gallagher family said they hope the case will raise awareness of how fentanyl and other drugs have been used “as weapons against innocent people”.
“The number of victims confirmed at this point is shocking. We are gutted by the magnitude of this collective and senseless loss,” the family said, The New York Times reported.
In another case, five men were accused in April of drugging and killing people who went to gay bars in Manhattan.