The parents of a young California woman murdered in Hawaii and the sister of her missing boyfriend -- now a key suspect in her death -- have called the mystery "surreal" and expressed concern that he was also murdered.
Family members of Brittany Royal, 25, and her boyfriend, 22-year old Boaz Johnson, have broken their silence after the body of Royal was discovered May 28, strangled and dumped in the ocean near Hawaii's Big Island. The couple had been living at a campsite in a remote town in the area, and Royal had told her parents that she was pregnant.
"They were excited about them being pregnant and kind of starting this new adventure and new life," Brittany Royal's mother Julie Royal told ABC News.
A real estate agent told ABC affiliate KITV the two were about to close the deal on 10 acres of land in the lava fields in Kalapana.
Police say they suspect Johnson in Brittany Royal's brutal murder, but he has seemingly vanished. Investigators say a seven-month search has put them no closer to finding their only suspect.
But Johnson's family fears he is dead.
"We're definitely concerned that he was also murdered alongside Brittany. It's very possible her body showed up and his didn't," Boaz Johnson's sister Sarah Johnson said. "It just seems all too easy to blame someone who isn't even here, may not even be alive to defend himself."
An affidavit filed with a Hawaii district court states Johnson may have used a false name to stay at a nearby hostel two weeks after Royal's murder.
The manager of the hostel told police she recognized the image of Boaz Johnson, but "this male party used the name of Jeffrey Allen," and that he abandoned the room suddenly, leaving behind several bags of personal items.
In another twist in the case, several months ago anonymous notes were sent to local media outlets and posted around town, stating that the two were murdered by angry locals because Johnson was planning to buy land in the area to launch a lava tourism business.
"One of the things that has been very perplexing is there has been so many twists and turns to this story," Julie Royal said.
Both families say they don't know what to believe. According to Brittany's mother, Hawaiian police have been sharing little to no information.
"We're so in needing-to-find-out mode that it's blocking the grief process, which has been really, really difficult for us. It's surreal. It's like a complete out-of-body experience and it's just been really tough," Julie Royal said.