The Hawai’i Police Department announced yesterday that a body found January 2 in Kalapana is that of missing Petersburg man Boaz Johnson.
A Hawai’i police media release states police determined Johnson ended his own life after he strangled his girlfriend, Brittany-Jane Royal, whose body was discovered last May by fishermen in line along waters off the coast of Kalapana.
“A composition book was found near Johnson’s body,” the media release states. “In three handwritten pages, the writer—who identified himself as Boaz Johnson—confessed to strangling Royal while involved in a domestic dispute and to throwing her body into the ocean. He also indicated his intention to end his life.”
A forensic document examiner found that the writing in the book came from Johnson, according to the press release.
An autopsy revealed the cause of Johnson’s death was asphyxia due to hanging and that no foul play was involved.
“Investigation revealed that after Royal’s body was found, Johnson said in a telephone conversation with a friend that he and Royal were in good health and were on their way to Hilo,” the press release states. “That phone call, in addition to DNA and other evidence found at the crime scene, made Johnson an early suspect in Royal’s murder.”
Johnson and Royal moved to Hawaii and had been camping together before her death.
Family members maintained their son was unfairly portrayed as a suspect in the case and that Johnson had received threats from a local tour operator after providing lava flow tours to a visiting family member, an Associated Press report states.
“That information that we received was followed up on and that information as well as the subject of the allegation was excluded (as a suspect during) our investigation,” said Hilo Criminal Investigator Lt. Greg Esteban.
The case is still open because detectives have minor follow-ups to conduct before the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney conducts a final review, the press release states.
“The Johnson family will have access to the personal affects belonging to Boaz once the case has been finalized and completed,” Esteban said.
On December 18, a circuit court judge issued a warrant for Johnson’s arrest for second-degree murder after a Grand Jury indictment.