Body found in tree identified as Big Island murder suspect

Body found in tree identified as Big Island murder suspect 6pm Update
Boaz "Bo" Johnson
Boaz "Bo" Johnson
Brittany Jane Royal
Brittany Jane Royal

KALAPANA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island police have identified the body of a man found hanging from a tree in Kalapana earlier this month as Boaz "Bo" Johnson, the only suspect in the murder of his pregnant girlfriend Brittany Jane Royal.

On January 2, a hiker found the decomposing body in a forested area of a lava field at the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana. The discovery was made in the same area where Royal, 25, and Johnson, 22, were staying before they disappeared last spring.

The search for Royal's killer began last May when her nude body was found tangled in a fishing net. The Medical Examiner ruled that she died of strangulation.

Johnson was the only suspect police had identified.  At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, police revealed that a composition book was found near Johnson's body. In three handwritten pages, the writer—who identified himself as Boaz Johnson—confessed to strangling Royal while involved in a domestic dispute and to throwing her body into the ocean. He also indicated his intention to end his life.  A forensic document examiner determined that the writing in the composition book came from Boaz Johnson.

An autopsy on Johnson's body revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging and the manner of death was suicide. The medical examiner ruled out foul play.

Watch Hawaii News Now starting at 5 on KGMB & KHNL for the developing story.

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