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LGBTQ activist who took on Florida gay marriage ban found dead in landfill

Former Miami mayor grieves brother’s death

Detectives are investigating the death of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and won a landmark same-sex marriage case in Miami-Dade County.

Detectives are investigating the death of Jorge “George” Diaz-Johnston, who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and won a landmark same-sex marriage case in Miami-Dade County.

After vanishing on Jan. 3 from Tallahassee, detectives found him dead in a landfill on Saturday morning in Jackson County. He was 54.

Jorge “George” Diaz-Johnston vanished on Jan. 3 from Tallahassee. Officers found him dead in a landfill on Saturday in Jackson County. (TPD)

Diaz-Johnson is survived by his husband, Don Johnston; his brother Manny Diaz, 67, a former mayor of Miami; and his nephew Manny Diaz, 47, a former University of Miami head football coach.

“He touched so many people with his kind and generous heart,” Johnston wrote on Facebook.

Diaz released a statement saying in part, “My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”

Orlando Gonzalez, the executive director of the Safeguarding American Values for Everyone Foundation, a Miami-based nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of the LGBTQ community, said he couldn’t believe the tragic news.

“Whenever there was help needed in the community, he came out to lend a helping hand,” Gonzalez said, adding he was deeply saddened and shocked.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about the homicide to call 1-850-891-4200.

Former Mayor Diaz’s complete statement

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.

My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come. I am also so very grateful to the Tallahassee Police Department- with the support of Mayor Daley and City Manager Reed- who have worked tirelessly to locate and investigate the circumstances surrounding my brother’s disappearance.

Their commitment has meant the world to my family and will continue to mean the world in our search for justice. We kindly ask for privacy and continued prayers.

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Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Emily Hales contributed to this report.


About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."