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BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Hawaii County Police say Boaz Johnson is now a suspect in his pregnant girlfriend's murder. Brittany Royal's body was found in the waters off the Big Island back on May 27th. So what has changed?
"During the early phases of our investigation we obtained information that we needed to validate and we have since validated that information. We believe that information is critical to the investigation and as a result we believe Mr. Johnson is alive," said Lt. Gregory Esteban, Hawaii Police Department.
Detectives aren't talking in specifics but they do say it is enough to make them think 22 year old Bo Johnson is a murder suspect.
"My initial reaction is I'm not surprised," said Ted Royal, Brittany Royal's Dad. "I was on the phone with the lead detective yesterday. I call him once a week just to find out what's going on. He made it very clear that until they can catch up with Bo and find out what he knows he remains a suspect. This thing has had a lot of twists and turns and I don't want to get my hopes up either way because it could be somebody else who did it. Something else can turn up and Bo could be off the suspect list."
Police do think Bo Johnson is alive and officers consider him dangerous.
Investigators say 25 year old Brittany Royal was strangled to death. She was pregnant and in the first trimester. According to court documents the couple had been camping near the lava fields at the Kaawaloa Estate in Kalapana.
Records show a knife, possible blood on clothing and rope consistent in size with the marks on Brittany's neck were found at the site. There were also drag marks on the ground leading to the ocean.
"When something like this happens you instantly start playing scenarios in your head like what could have happened so in our minds yes he could have been the killer," said Zack Royal, Brittany's brother. "He didn't seem like the type of person that would murder somebody. He was an extremely kind person and a very kind soul and he didn't have a murderous bone in his body as far as I was concerned. I personally think he wasn't the one that did it. That's just my personal opinion."
Bo Johnson is the only suspect at this time. His whereabouts are still unknown although Police do believe Johnson may still be on island. There is no record he boarded a plane and left the state.
There was also another big clue. The manager at the Pahoa Village Cafe hostel said Bo Johnson was staying there, but using a different name. She says she saw him two weeks after Royal's body was found. However officers now say there is no indication Johnson was at the hostel in Pahoa.
Johnson is one of 12 children in his family and is originally from Alaska. His family maintains Bo is a victim. They realize his body could have been dropped in the ocean with Brittany's and not found yet.
"I really hope he didn't suffer the same fate as Brittany. I'm hoping against hope that he is alive and he is okay somewhere. It's crossed all of our minds and anyone who has not thought about that scenario yet is not thinking it through. It's a possibility. It seems like a large possibility," said Sarah Johnson, Bo's sister.
"People need to remember that he is innocent until proven guilty and they should act as such and know he has a family and rude comments and things that haven't been proven hurt us," said Sarah Johnson.
"Yes I would like to see somebody pay for what they did to my daughter but even if that happens, it's not going to bring her back," said Ted Royal.
The Royal family is planning a celebration of Brittany's life back in her hometown of Tustin, California on July 27, which is two months after her body was discovered in the ocean.