KALAPANA, Hawaii (CBSLA.com) — Authorities have determined after an investigation that the strangulation death of a pregnant 25-year-old one-time California resident in Hawaii was at the hands of her boyfriend.
Officials said a December 18th GrandJury in Hawaii indicted 22-year-old Boaz David Johnson for the murder of Brittany-Jane Royal. A warrant was issued for his arrest. That indictment was sealed until earlier this week.
On January 2, a body was found hanging from a tree in Kalapana. The Medical Examiner ruled out foul play and determined the death was a suicide.
The body has since been identified as Johnson. Authorities said a private forensics laboratory confirmed his identity with known samples of his DNA and dental records.
Officials said a notebook was found near the body. The notebook contained three handwritten pages in which the writer — who identified himself as Johnson — confessed to strangling Royal. In the note he reportedly confessed to killing the woman, dumping her body in the ocean and said he was going to kill himself.
A forensic document examiner determined that the writing matched known samples of Johnson’s handwriting.
Royal’s body was found on May 28, 2013, after getting tangled up in fishing line in waters off the coast of Kalapana.
The victim had lived in Tustin and moved to Kalapana to be with Johnson. The suspect had recently moved to Hawaii from Alaska.
After Royal’s body was found, Johnson reportedly told a friend by phone that he and Royal were fine and on their way to Hilo.
Investigators said Johnson’s lack of cooperation and DNA found at the crime scene led them to Johnson as suspect from the outset.
While authorities have definitively named Johnson as the killer, they said the case is still open because of minor follow-ups before the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney can file a final review.