HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of the woman whose body was found floating off the Kalapana area of the Big Island of Hawaii are holding on to their memories of her as they try to deal with her death.
The body of 25-year-old Brittany-Jane Royal was discovered on Tuesday. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled. Police have opened a homicide investigation.
Her father Ted, mother Julie and brother Schuyler flew to Hilo from Tustin, Calif., after getting the heartbreaking news of Brittany's death. They spoke to HNN while surrounded by the beauty that they said drew her to the Big Island.
"She fell in love with where she ended up at," said Ted Royal. "She couldn't speak better about the environment here and the land, and that's what brought her here."
The Royals said Brittany was a free spirit who was into yoga and music, and who traveled the world. But a few things changed when she came to the Big Island. One major change was that she was going to have a baby, news that was welcomed by her family.
"I have always wanted a child, you know, whether it was my brother's or my sister's," said Schuyler Royal. "I was so excited for her to have a baby, so we talked about her being pregnant and how excited she was."
"And then when she found out she was pregnant of course, she was thinking seriously that she wanted to settle here in Hawaii and fainally get roots. And that should tell you how much she loved this area."
Brittany had just been to California just a few weeks ago, for what turned out to be her final visit.
"We spent Mother's Day together, which was the best present I could have ever asked for," said Julie Royal. "And then after she arrived here, I spoke to her on the phone on the 22nd of May. And that's the last contact that I had with her."
Police said they are looking for 22-year-old Boaz Johnson of Petersburg, Alaska. Investigators said Johnson had been seen camping with Brittany Royal before she died.
Royal's family did not comment on Johnson's relationship with her, but expected the truth to come out soon.
Her family also praised local residents for their help and compassion. However, "I've also found that I don't ever want to come here again," said Schuyler Royal. "And what happened to my sister here is not something that is leaving a good taste in my mouth, and I don't think I'll come back."
When asked what they would say to the person who killed Brittany, her mother said, "She's at peace. And I hope you never find a day of peace in your entire life. Because what you did was rob our entire family of our precious daughter and sister."
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