Diabolique Paris Johnson, 34, is accused of shooting dead Joshua J Smelser inside the victim’s home in Detroit on 5 September, 2020.
Neighbours reported hearing multiple gunshots before seeing a person leaving the house with Smelser’s backpack, which contained his laptop, credit cards and phone. Two witnesses tried to pursue the suspect but lost him in the dark, according to reports.
Johnson, who goes by the rap name Chuck Da MF Buck and porn name Chuck Da Dollasign, is also accused of robbing another Detroit man at gunpoint four days earlier.
Both victims were members of the LGBT+ community and had allegedly been lured by Johnson via dating apps in what police say was a targeted campaign against gay and bisexual men.
Smelser, a videographer known for his love of animals and music, had only moved to Detroit six months before his death. His family are said to be “heartbroken”.
“[Joshua] was always there for everybody he knew. He had the biggest heart for everybody,” his sister, Sarah Simmons, told local news.
“He was such a kind and caring person that had friends all over the world,” added father Steven Smelser, who is creating a scholarship in his son’s name.
Johnson was arrested in Indianapolis on 4 December and extradited to Michigan this week, where he was charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of felony firearm.
He was apprehended thanks to the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), an organisation that helps law enforcement investigate serious crimes against the LGBT+ community.
Fair Michigan president Alanna Maguire described the suspect’s alleged targeting of queer men as “troubling”.
“It is troubling that the perpetrator of these vicious acts apparently used online dating apps to locate and target his victims,” she 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.”