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Police Now Say Johnson Suspect in Royal’s Murder

July 3, 2013, 12:39 PM HST (Updated July 3, 2013, 3:54 PM)
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Big Island police today again asked for the public’s help locating the former boyfriend of a woman whose body was found floating May 28 off the Puna coast, but they are now describing him as the suspect in her murder.

Police said that the naming of 22-year-old Boaz David Johnson as the suspect in the case follows the completion of follow-up investigation into the death of Brittany Jane Royal.

Police have been looking for Johnson since May 30, but at that time they described him as a missing person, saying that he had not been in contact with his family in Alaska since May 27.

May 30 was also the date that police were able to use fingerprints to identify the body found tangled in a fishing line as that of Royal, a 25-year-old California woman who had recently moved to Kalapana.

A day later, police announced that they wanted to question Johnson, a former resident of Petersburg, Alaska, about Royal’s death, saying they learned that the two had been camping together.

An autopsy showed that Royal had been murdered and had died of strangulation.

Court documents filed by police indicated that Royal had been strangled with a cord or rope, and that during a search of the tent the two shared in Kalapana police found a length of rope with a width consistent with the ligature marks on Royal’s neck.

The documents also stated that what appeared to be human hair similar to that of the victim and tissue, as well as what appeared to be “drag marks,” were found leading toward the ocean.

Also found by police nearby was a backpack with a cellphone and knife next to it and an Alaska identification in the name of Boaz Johnson.

Evidence collected in the area of the campsite was sent off-island for forensic analysis.

A more recent photo of Boaz Johnson provided by the Hawaii Police Department.

A more recent photo of Boaz Johnson provided by the Hawaii Police Department.

Johnson may still be on the island and should be considered dangerous, today’s statement said.

He is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds with a slim build and fair complexion. He has a tattoo of the upper body of a horse near the right side of his abdomen.

When last seen, he was unshaven and had medium-length brown hair.

Police said detectives continue to actively pursue leads in this investigation and asked that anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts contact Det. Robert Almeida at 808-961-2386 or ralmeida@co.hawaii.hi.us, Det. Fetuutuunai Amuimuia at 808-961-2278 or famuimuia@co.hawaii.hi.us, or Lt. Gregory Esteban at 808-961-2252 or gesteban@hawaiicounty.gov.

Anonymous tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to Caller ID and all information is kept confidential.

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