The roommate of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, whose body was found in a landfill outside of Tallahassee in January, was indicted for murder.
The grand jury handed down the indictment on April 14, and they also indicted Steven Yinger on counts of tampering with evidence, grand theft auto, grand theft, and criminal use of personal information.
Jorge and his husband, Don, were plaintiffs in the court case that eventually legalized gay marriage in Miami-Dade County. He is also the brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
Jorge’s body was found wrapped in bedsheets in a landfill outside of Tallahassee on the morning of Jan. 8 and an autopsy revealed that he had been strangled to death. His roommate, Yinger, was arrested in January on other charges, including driving with a suspended license, trespassing and possession of paraphernalia.
Assistant State Attorney Jon Fuchs announced in February that the case would be going to a grand jury, but he did not share who the suspect was.
Don reported his husband missing when a coworker said that Jorge hadn’t shown up at work; the couple was in the middle of a divorce and did not live together anymore. A friend told police that when he confronted Yinger about Jorge’s whereabouts, the roommate said that he was at Don’s home and that he was planning on picking him up with his BMW. Don confirmed this was false, and also noted that the roommates were not getting along and Yinger was supposed to be moving out soon.
Yinger was later found at a park with his girlfriend in Jorge’s car, even though he does not have a valid driver’s license. Later, he told police he hadn’t actually seen Jorge for a few days and that he had rented out his car to a friend. That friend’s email address was used later to activate Jorge’s Apple watch.
Police also discovered through phone records that Jorge’s cell phone was shut off on Jan. 6, the day after Yinger’s girlfriend said she heard the phone ringing in their home at the time she was told Jorge was in Miami. Yinger’s phone records showed he searched for how to reset an iPhone — even though he does not own one — and on Jan. 7, he sold Jorge’s cell phone for $385.
Traffic cameras showed someone driving the vehicle west through Calhoun County, and on social media, Yinger posted photos of himself in Panama City Beach.
Police arrested Yinger for driving without a valid license and was later charged with murder.
Don shared on Facebook, “I can’t stop crying as I try to write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”
Yinger, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, is being held at the Leon County Jail without bond. He is being represented by a public defender.