Murder probe as Florida gay rights activist and brother of former Miami mayor found dead in landfill

·2 min read
Jorge Diaz-Johnston was among the activists who sued Miami-Dade County against its ban on same-sex marriage in 2014 (Twitter: TallyPD)
Jorge Diaz-Johnston was among the activists who sued Miami-Dade County against its ban on same-sex marriage in 2014 (Twitter: TallyPD)

Police officials in Florida have launched a probe into the death of prominent gay rights activist Jorge Diaz-Johnston after ruling it as homicide.

Diaz-Johnston was found dead in Jackson County on 8 January, five days after he was reported missing. His body was found around 9.30am at a landfill in the county, almost 90 miles (about 145km) west of where he was last seen in Tallahassee.

The cause of death has not yet been ascertained. An autopsy is being scheduled to find the manner of death, officials said in a statement.

The Tallahassee police said they were conducting an investigation. “This is currently an open and active investigation and more information will be provided as it becomes available,” the police department said in a statement.

“Detectives ask anyone who may have information regarding this incident to please call TPD at 850-891-4200. They may also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS,” the statement added.

The death is also being probed by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, which has confirmed that the body was in trash collected from another landfill — Baker landfill on Charlie Day Road — by a garbage transportation company.

The trash originally came from a metal bay at the same landfill, which is publicly accessible.

Diaz-Johnston’s death was confirmed by his brother Manny Diaz on 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. My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come,” Mr Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party and the former Miami mayor, wrote on Twitter.

He also thanked Tallahassee police officials, the city mayor and manager for working “tirelessly to locate and investigate the circumstances surrounding my brother’s disappearance”.

At the time of his death, Diaz-Johnston was living in Tallahassee.

The 54-year-old activist and his partner Don Johnston were among six couples who sued Miami-Dade County against its ban on same-sex marriages in 2014. The plaintiffs won the case in 2015, paving the way for the first same-sex marriage in Florida.

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