A man is accused of targeting members of the LGBTQ community and robbing one man and murdering another he met through dating apps.
On March 2, the Wayne County prosecutor, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project, charged Diabolique Paris Johnson, 34, with one count of armed robbery, one count of felony firearm and one count of first-degree felony murder, according to the Michigan Attorney General.
On Sept. 1, 2020, Johnson allegedly committed an armed robbery of a 26-year-old man at a hotel in Dearborn.
Four days later, on Sept. 5, Johnson allegedly killed a man in Detroit during another armed robbery.
“It is alleged that the victims in both cases were targeted on online dating apps because they were members of the LGBTQ community,” the office noted in the arrest announcement.
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning.
At the time of the alleged murder, Detroit’s WDIV-TV reported neighbors heard multiple gunshots at the home of Joshua J. Smelser, 39, and spotted a suspect fleeing with the victim’s backpack, which contained a laptop, phone and credit cards.
The witnesses gave chase but lost the suspect, who was caught on surveillance video, police said.
The case against Johnson involved the cooperation of police officers in Dearborn, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana, between September and December last year.
It is among the first cases prosecuted as part of a partnership between the Michigan Attorney General’s recently formed Hate Crime Unit and county prosecutors across the state dedicated to investigating incidents in which victims are targeted based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity and national origin.
“It is troubling that the perpetrator of these vicious acts apparently used online dating apps to locate and target his victims,” Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
“Michigan’s LGBTQ communities know that the Fair Michigan Justice Project, along with Michigan’s county prosecutors and law enforcement officials, stand ready to aggressively investigate and prosecute these brutal crimes,” Maguire added.