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Detectives have not ruled out slain LGBTQ advocate’s husband as murder suspect

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.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A detective who is investigating Jorge “George” Diaz-Johnston’s murder said on Friday that the crime was not a random act of violence and his husband, Don Johnston, has not been ruled out as a suspect.

Detectives have spoken to him and several other people close to Diaz-Johnston, including his roommate.

Tallahassee Lt. George Creamer said detectives have questioned Johnston several times. The couple took on Florida’s gay marriage ban and won a landmark same-sex marriage case in Miami-Dade County.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive on Jan. 3 at a park in Tallahassee. Creamer said Johnston didn’t report his disappearance to police until five days later. Detectives found him dead on Jan. 8 in a Jackson County landfill more than an hour away from Tallahassee.

“We got very lucky this time because we knew there was a body located,” Creamer said.

Diaz-Johnston was a paralegal and he was a doctorate candidate of religious studies at Florida State University. Johnston used Facebook to release a statement on Jan 12 to announce Diaz-Johnston’s death. He also shared a link to the live stream of his funeral on Friday at the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables.

Diaz-Johnston’s brother Manny Diaz, 67, a former mayor of Miami, released a statement on Thursday saying in part, “My brother was such a special gift to this world.”

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.

Diaz-Johnston is also survived by his mother Elisa and his nephew Manny Diaz, 47, a former University of Miami head football coach.

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:

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."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.