It was Memorial Day one year ago when the parents of Boaz Johnson told Big Island Chronicle they last spoke with their son. It was the day after Memorial Day that fishermen discovered a woman’s strangled body off the coast of Kalapana.
In the year since, we learned that woman was Brittany Jane Royal, and that she was early on in a pregnancy with a boy she told family members she wanted to name ‘Io.
We learned in the last year that Johnson strangled Royal before hanging himself in a forest bordering Kalapana’s lava field. For six months, however, Johnson’s decomposing body was yet to be discovered, and the community here and beyond -/- this became an internationally recognized story — wondered who killed Royal and where was Johnson. Speculation was rampant and the accusations were paramount. Online forums were active in slandering people and their businesses. Then a hiker happened upon Johnson’s remains in the trees mountainside of Kalapana. Near his body was a composition notebook wrapped up to protect it from the elements. Johnson, in a three-page manifesto, described himself, Royal, and the circumstances that led them to camping together in a tent on the lava. He also described how and why he committed the crime against Royal and the unborn child and why he chose to end his life. At a press conference in February, police referred to Johnson’s manifesto, but said the writing would not be released while the case remained active. To date, police have not announced that the case is closed. In January police expressed an interest in pursuing leads related to Johnson’s phone activity following the time his family publicly stated they last heard from him. — Tiffany Edwards Hunt