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Police make arrest in stabbing death of gay man

Jessie Sumlar IV found dead in his Northside Jacksonville apartment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 26-year-old man is charged with stabbing a gay man to death in his Northside apartment last month, stealing his wallet and car, and then using the credit cards, Jacksonville police announced Friday.

Jessie Sumlar IV, 30, was found dead July 19 in the Water's Edge Apartments on Broward Road by a maintenance worker.  Police believe he was killed two or three days earlier.

While police do not normally release the sexual orientation of a victim, it became relevant because there have been three slayings of transgender people in Jacksonville in recent months. News4Jax was told Sumlar was gay, but not transgender.

Police didn't know who they were looking for until Sumlar's 2006 Chevrolet Impala was found burned near the intersection of Kings Avenue and McCoys Creek Boulevard. A few days later, they obtained surveillance of Sumlar's credit card being used.

Once surveillance photos were released, and tips led police to Omar Lewis. He was arrested earlier this week on charges of auto theft, credit card theft and fraudulent use of a stolen credit card. Once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement matched Lewis' DNA to the crime scene, he was also charged with murder.

Detectives interviewed Lewis, but he has not cooperated with the investigation.

"They obviously did know each either other somehow, but we're trying to determine how," Lt. Craig Waldrup said.

Chloie Kensington, with Stiletto Sisters Society, said the arrest in Sumlar's death gives hope for the LGBTQ community.

"I’m so happy. I feel this community has grieved enough and we deserve something to celebrate and actually see progress being made.” said Kensington, who knew Sumlar. “What’s important to happen now is that this community rally behind the support of the family and be able to provide whatever information they can that’s credible to the powers that be so we can prosecute this man and he can be held to the fullest extent of the law."

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