Jorge Diaz-Johnston's Body Found In Landfill
Police in Florida are investigating the death of prominent LGBTQ rights activist Jorge Diaz-Johnston as a homicide after his body was discovered in a landfill earlier this month.
Diaz-Johnston's body was found in a Jackson County landfill on Jan. 8, five days after he was last seen alive near his workplace in Tallahassee, FL, roughly 90 miles from where his body was located. His husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, reported him missing one day earlier.
A noted member of the state's LGBTQ community, Diaz-Johnston was a key part of the fight for marriage equality in the state. He and his husband were among six couples that sued Miami-Dade County in 2014 to legalize same-sex marriage. They won the case in 2015 shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ended bans on same-sex marriage nationwide.
Diaz-Johnston's brother, former Miami mayor and current Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz, confirmed his death via Twitter. “I am profoundly appreciative of the outpouring of support shown to me, my brother-in-law Don and my family after the loss of my brother, Jorge Diaz-Johnston,” Diaz said. “My brother was a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”
“There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can't stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me,” Diaz-Johnston's husband wrote on Facebook. “So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.” Equality Florida celebrated Diaz-Johnston's contributions to LGBTQ rights battles in the state, saying it was “heartbroken” to hear of his death.
Not A Random Act Of Violence
Both the Tallahassee Police and the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department are investigating the circumstances around Diaz-Johnston's death. The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department confirmed that his body was in trash collected from the Baker landfill in Baker, FL, over 150 miles from Tallahassee, before being transported to the Jackson County location. According to The Independent, the trash containing Diaz-Johnston's body was collected from a metal bay at the Baker landfill, which is publicly accessible.
Tallahassee Police spokesperson Alicia Turner told WFSU that it isn't uncommon for trash to move around the region, meaning it is possible that Diaz-Johnston's body possibly could have been moved between facilities in Tallahassee, Baker and Jackson County before being found. It remains unclear exactly where he died as a result. Tallahassee Police Lt. George Creamer said Diza-Johnston's death was not a random act of violence, with Turner adding that investigators do not believe his death was the result of a hate crime.
Husband Hasn't Been Ruled Out As Suspect
According to Turner, Don Diaz-Johnston, Jorge's husband, has not been ruled out as a suspect. According to Turner, the couple was separated and no longer living together when Diaz-Johnston vanished on Jan. 3. The deceased was living with someone else, but police didn't reveal that person's identity.
Turner addressed questions about the four day gap between when Jorge disappeared and when Don reported him missing, saying “When you're not normally seeing someone every day, it's pretty typical to go that amount of time before you might think that something is wrong.”
A Facebook post from a family friend stated that Diaz-Johnston didn't have his car at the time that he went missing. Police reports confirmed that his car was stolen and wrecked two weeks before his disappearance. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Jorge was looking to start a “new chapter” in his life before going missing, including getting a new job and moving into a new residence.
Diaz-Johnston's cause of death remains unknown. The State Medical Examiner's Office is yet to release his autopsy results publicly and Turner said she could not comment on the cause of death or if law enforcement has focused on a particular suspect due to the ongoing investigation.
Jorge Diaz-Johnston: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Tallahassee Police Department