All Rights reserved
A grand jury in Florida returned an indictment against a man in the murder of LGBTQ+ rights activist Jorge Diaz-Johnston, whose strangled body was found in a Miami landfill in January. Diaz-Johnston was part of a 2015 case that recognized marriage equality in Miami-Dade County.
Steven Yinger, 36, the former roommate of Diaz-Johnson, was indicted by a Leon County jury and charged with first-degree murder, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, and criminal use of a personal ID, State Attorney Jack Campbell told the Tallahassee Democrat.
"I do appreciate the hard work of the grand jury," Campbell said, "and we're going to work hard to get justice for him and his family."
Diaz-Johnston was letting Yinger, who he had met through an alcohol recovery program, live with him rent-free while Yinger found a job and got back on his feet financially.
"Jorge didn't charge him rent, never had expectations, until he could get a job and support himself and that's who Jorge was," Don Johnston, Diaz-Johnston's husband, told local TV station WPLG.
Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive on January 3 near the law firm where he worked. Police believe he was strangled to death sometime between January 3 to January 5. His body was found on January 8 at a regional landfill in Jackson County. Yinger, who had been released from prison in October and has a lengthy record of convictions for burglary and drug charges, was arrested on January 12 on trespassing and other charges, where he has been held without bail.
Diaz-Johnston was the brother of Manny Diaz, the former mayor of Miami and currently the Florida Democratic Party Chair.
"I am profoundly appreciative of the outpouring of support shown to my family after the loss of my brother, Jorge Diaz-Johnston, earlier this year," Diaz wrote in an email to the Democrat. "We once again ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time."
Diaz-Johnston and his husband were one of six couples who successfully sued the Miami-Dade County Clerk's Office after the office denied them marriage licenses in 2014.
The couple had been separated just prior to the Diaz-Johnston's murder, although the pair had reconciled.
"I am so angry. After all those years of trying to get my husband back, to have him ripped from me for such an utterly senseless reason," Johnston told WPLG.
Johnston said the investigation was made especially difficult, in part because police said early on that no person had been ruled out as a suspect, even though investigators focused on Yinger very early.
"Right now, I'm relieved that the world knows the truth," Johnston told the Democrat. "It's been very difficult to have this suspicion hanging over me for three months. But I've known the truth all along."