Former roommate of murdered LGBTQ+ activist Jorge Diaz-Johnston has been indicted by a grand jury for his murder.
Described by those who knew him as ‘a pioneering gay rights activist and warm, gentle spirit’, Jorge Diaz-Johnston’s body was found by Tallahassee Police (on 8 January) at the Jackson County dump, a regional landfill that takes trash from Leon County and surrounding areas.
Diaz-Johnston, 54, had been known for his role in the legal fight for marriage equality, being one of six queer couples to sue Miami-Dade County clerk’s office for their right to marry in 2014.
One year later, in 2015, the couples’ lawsuit paid off as the court ruled the anti-LGBTQ+ law unconstitutional, resulting in same-sex marriage becoming legal in Florida months before the rest of the country.
According to court documents, Steven Yinger, a known felon with a long history of burglary and theft convictions, was accused of “strangling and/or choking” Diaz-Johnston somewhere between 3 and 5 January 2022, a few days before his body was recovered.
The grand jury returned an indictment against Steven Yinger, 36, on Thursday (14 April) citing charges of first-degree murder, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and criminal use of a personal ID, said State Attorney Jack Campbell.
Official court documents allege that Yinger “did unlawfully alter, destroy, conceal, or remove the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, [his] iPhone, iPhone accessories and/or computer tablet” to impair the investigation, in addition to stealing Diaz-Johnston’s BMW and fraudulently using his identification, as reported by People.
Yinger is currently being held without bail in the Leon County Detention Facility.
Speaking shortly after the indictment, Diaz-Johnston’s husband, Don, said: “I’ve known the truth all along.”
Jorge had reportedly been separated from Don when he met Yinger in an alcohol recovery program and offered him a place to stay following his release from prison in early October.
“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 told WPLG.
“I am so angry,” he added. “After all those years of trying to get my husband back, to have him ripped from me for such an utterly senseless reason.”
Police are said to have found Yinger on 11 January, hiding in a stairwell outside a building close to Jorge’s home.
Yinger made an attempt to flee before being apprehended and arrested for trespassing, along with other charges. He’s since been in jail for violating his probation.