Roommate of murdered LGBT+ activist charged with his killing

Jorge Diaz-Johnston

The former roommate of Jorge Diaz-Johnston has been indicted as a suspect in the LGBT+ rights activist’s death by a Florida court.

The Leon County grand jury indicted Steven Yinger, 36, on Thursday (14 April) on several charges concerning the death of Diaz-Johnston. Diaz-Johnston was last seen on 3 January, and he was tragically found dead just a few days later on 8 January in a landfill in Baker, Florida.

State attorney Jack Campbell told the Tallahassee Democrat that the charges against Singer include first-degree murder, grand theft, grand theft of a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and criminal use of a personal ID. 

He’s currently being held without bail at the Leon County Detention Facility.

Diaz-Johnston, 54, was renowned for being among six same-sex couples who sued the Miami-Dade County clerk’s office for the right to marry in 2014. The couples won their legal battle in 2015, and the county legalised marriage equality months before the rest of the country.

According to the indictment, Yinger, who was roommates with Diaz-Johnston, is accused of killing the LGBT+ rights hero by “strangling and/or choking” him sometime between 3-5 January, People reported. 

The court documents alleged that Yinger did “unlawfully alter, destroy, conceal, or remove the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, [his] iPhone, iPhone accessories and/or computer tablet” to impede the investigation. The indictment also claimed that Yinger stole Diaz-Johnston’s BMW and fraudulently used his ID.  

Diaz-Johnston’s husband Don told WPLG that the couple were separated when his husband met Yinger in an alcohol recovery programme. Don said Diaz-Johnston offered to let Yinger stay with him without charging rent until Yinger could “get a job and support himself”. 

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

Don added that the “grieving has been difficult” and has been “delayed” as a result of the “circus and attention” on Jorge Diaz-Johnston’s death. 

“I still have to remind myself even this morning Jorge is gone,” he said. 

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Yinger has a lengthy criminal history, which includes convictions on burglary and drug charges. He was released from prison in October and later moved in with Diaz-Johnston.

Yinger was cited by police for driving on a suspended or revoked licence on both 8 and 9 January, and he was found behind the wheel of Diaz-Johnston’s BMW the second time. 

Police found Yinger hiding in a stairwell on 11 January in a building not far away from Diaz-Johnston’s apartment. Although he attempted to flee, he was apprehended and arrested for trespassing and other charges. 

He has been in jail since for violating his probation, Tallahassee Democrat reported. 

Yinger’s first court appearance is scheduled for Saturday (16 April).