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Watch: Suspect Charged in Murder of Florida Gay Equality Advocate

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday April 19, 2022

Don Diaz-Johnston and Jorge Diaz-Johnston on July 2, 2014
Don Diaz-Johnston and Jorge Diaz-Johnston on July 2, 2014  (Source:J Pat Carter / AP file)

A suspect has been charged in the killing of Florida gay equality advocate Jorge Diaz-Johnston, whose body was found in a landfill in January. The suspect is Diaz-Johnston's roommate, reports said.

According to the indictment, "Steven Yinger strangled Jorge Diaz-Johnston at his Tallahassee home and dumped his body, which was later found in a trash pile at a landfill in Baker, Florida, about 60 miles east of the Alabama border," NBC News reported.

"After discarding Diaz-Johnston's body, Yinger allegedly used his BMW, iPhone and cash," the report added.

Yinger, whose criminal record "includes prison sentences for theft and cocaine distribution," has been charged with "first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and grand theft," NBC noted.

Jorge and his husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, were among six same-sex couples who were plaintiffs in a suit over having been denied marriage licenses. The outcome of that suit made marriage equality legal in Miami-Dade County at the start of 2015, months before a Supreme Court ruling made marriage equality legal nationally.

Jorge and Don had separated and were not living together at the time of Jorge's death, according to a report from local news channel NBC Miami.

Don told the news station that the two were working to reconcile, and said his "life has been completely altered" by the tragedy. Don added that his husband's murder had "turned everything upside down and ended all of our hopes and plans."

"To now be a part of this and have our marriage end this way is something I just never saw coming and still frankly can't accept," Don added.

As reported previously at EDGE, the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston was found in a landfill days after he went missing on Jan. 3. A friend took to Facebook on Jan. 8 to share news of Diaz-Johnston's disappearance; his body was found later that same day.

The 54-year-old activist was the brother of Manny Diaz, the former mayor of Miami. After Jorge's body was found, Manny took to Twitter to express his grief and share his gratitude for "the outpouring of support shown to me, my brother-in-law Don, and my family after the loss of my brother," whom Manny called "such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come".

To watch the NBC Miami news clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.