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Roommate Charged In Murder Of Florida LGBTQ Activist Whose Body Was Found At Landfill

Steven Yinger has been arrested for the murder of Florida same sex marriage rights activist Jorge Diaz-Johnston. Yinger had been staying with his alleged victim after the two met in an alcohol rehabilitation program.


 

A Personal photo of Jorge Diaz Johnston

The roommate of a prominent Florida gay rights activist who was found murdered in a landfill earlier this year has been indicted last week in his killing.

Steven Yinger, 37, was indicted by a grand jury on Friday on first-degree murder charges in the death of 54-year-old LGBTQ advocate Jorge Diaz-Johnston, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. He was also charged with criminal use of personal identification information, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle and tampering with physical evidence.

Yinger, 36, fatally strangled Diaz-Johnston at his duplex between Jan. 3 and 5, prosecutors said, according to an indictment. The victim was last seen alive near his workplace in Tallahassee, Florida on Jan. 3.

State Attorney Jack Campbell described Diaz-Johnston’s slaying as a “tragedy.” 

“I do appreciate the hard work of the grand jury," Campbell told the Tallahassee Democrat. "And we’re going to work hard to get justice for him and his family.”

A police photo of Steven Yinger

Diaz-Johnston’s body was found by a garbage truck driver in a Jackson County landfill on Jan. 8, after he’d been reported missing, according to the Tallahassee Police Department and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

“Right now, I'm relieved that the world knows the truth," Diaz-Johnston's husband, Don Johnston, told the Tallahassee Democrat. "It’s been very difficult to have this suspicion hanging over me for three months. But I’ve known the truth all along.” 

Diaz-Johnston’s grieving husband was adamant that the grand jury’s ruling wouldn’t bring back his partner.

“I am so angry,” Don Johnston added. “After all those years of trying to get my husband back, to have him ripped from me for such an utterly senseless reason.”

Yinger knew Diaz-Johnston from an alcohol rehabilitation program and had been living with him at the time of his murder, loved ones said.

“That’s how he knows Steven Yinger,” Johnston explained. “Jorge’s struggles with that are an inevitable part of the story.”

The 54-year-old was a trailblazing figure within Florida’s LGBTQ community. In 2014, a U.S. district court in Miami-Dade county ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional after Diaz-Johnson and Johnston, along with five other gay Florida couples, filed a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory law. 

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge,” Equality Florida said in a statement in January. “He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians. Our deepest condolences to Don and Jorge’s extended family.”

Yinger, who has previously been arrested for battery, burglary and various drug charges, is currently being held without bond at a Leon County detention facility, online jail records show. It’s unclear if he’s retained an attorney to comment on his behalf as of yet. Court dates weren’t immediately available for him Monday.

The Office of the State Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s requests for comment regarding the case on Monday afternoon.

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