TIME Crime

Body Hanging From Tree in Hawaii ID’d as Man Who Killed Pregnant Girlfriend

'Hippie' couple lived in a tent in a lava field

Hawaii police confirmed Tuesday that a body found hanging from a tree earlier this month belonged to a man who admitted in his suicide note that he had strangled his pregnant girlfriend last year.

Boaz David Johnson’s decomposed body was found hanging in a Kalapana lava field on Jan 2., and was only recently identified through DNA and dental records, West Hawaii Today reports. A notebook found near the body contained a handwritten suicide note in which Johnson admitted he had strangled his pregnant girlfriend, Brittany-Jane Royal, during a domestic dispute and thrown her body into the ocean.

Royal’s nude body was found tangled in fishing lines in the ocean off Kalapana on May 28, and she was identified through her fingerprints. Johnson was indicted on second-degree murder charges in December, and a warrant was out for his arrest. Assistant Police Chief Henry Tavares said at a Tuesday news conference that the robe Johnson used to hang himself was similar to the rope used to strangle Royal, and that the suicide note contained no hint of remorse for the murder.

Royal was 10 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, and had told her family she planned to name her baby boy Io, after the Hawaiian hawk. She and Johson lived in a tent on a lava field, but Johnson’s family said the pair hoped to start an organic farm. Royal’s mother Julie wrote that she was astonished that “a 25-year-old free-spirit hippie girl could touch so many lives.”

“Brittany’s life was about peace (and) love,” she wrote. “We can all learn from her. She was searching for the perfect place to call home and to raise a child. She is now in that ultimate paradise

[West Hawaii Today]

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