Man targeting members of LGBTQ community pleads guilty to Detroit murder, Dearborn robbery

Diabolique Johnson targeted members of LGBTQ community on dating apps, police say

Diabolique Paris Johnson is accused of murder and armed robbery. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A man who was targeting members of the LGBTQ community on dating apps has pleaded guilty in connection with a Detroit murder and a Dearborn robbery, officials said.

On Sept. 1, 2020, Diabolique Paris Johnson, 35, of Indianapolis, Indiana, is accused of robbing a 26-year-old Detroit man at the Red Roof Inn in the 24100 block of Michigan Avenue in Dearborn.

Police said Johnson took the man’s personal property during the armed robbery.

Four days later, in the 16800 block of Woodbine Street in Detroit, Johnson is accused of murdering Joshua J. Smelser, 39, of Detroit, during another armed robbery.

Neighbors said they heard multiple gunshots and saw a person exiting Smelser’s house shortly after the shots were fired. The person had Smelser’s backpack, which contained his laptop, credit cards, and phone, according to police.

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Officials said both victims were targeted on online dating apps because they were members of the LGBTQ community.

Johnson was not in custody when he was charged with the first count of armed robbery on Sept. 21, 2020. Police officers from Dearborn, Detroit, and Indianapolis, conducted an investigation that led to his arrest Dec. 4, 2020, in Indianapolis.

On Monday afternoon (June 6), Johnson pleaded guilty to a sentence agreement of 25-45 years for second-degree murder and two years to be served consecutively for felony firearm.

The original felony murder charge will be dismissed as part of the agreement.

Johnson also pleaded guilty as charged to armed robbery, with a sentence agreement of 15-30 years to run concurrently with the murder charge, officials said.

He entered the pleas before a Wayne County Circuit Court judge.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:45 a.m. July 12.

The announcement was made by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Fair Michigan Justice Project. FMJP is a program that helps Michigan officials solve crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.