The alarming beliefs of astrology influencer-turned killer who warned followers of impending ‘apocalypse’

On the day of the total eclipse, Danielle Johnson fatally stabbed her boyfriend and then fled down a busy California highway, where she pushed her two children into the path of oncoming traffic and later died after crashing the vehicle. Her motive remains unclear, reports Mike Bedigan

Friday 12 April 2024 02:28 BST
On the day of the total eclipse, Danielle Johnson stabbed her boyfriend and then fled down a busy California highway, where she pushed her two children into the path of oncoming traffic
On the day of the total eclipse, Danielle Johnson stabbed her boyfriend and then fled down a busy California highway, where she pushed her two children into the path of oncoming traffic (@MysticxLipstick/Twitter)

In the early hours of Monday 8 April, following a loud verbal altercation at their home in north Los Angeles, 34-year-old Danielle Johnson stabbed her partner and fled in a dark-coloured Porsche SUV with her two young children.

As the car sped down the 405 Freeway, Johnson suddenly pushed her children out of the vehicle and into the path of oncoming traffic. Her eight-month-old baby was killed, but her nine-year-old sister survived the horrific events. Their mother later died after ploughing the car into a tree.

Johnson, an astrology influencer and peddler of spiritual remedies, had recently taken to social media to warn her extensive following of an impending “apocalypse” ahead of the solar eclipse, which swept across North America and around the world later on Monday.

In erratic posts in the days leading up to the tragedy she told people to get their hearts “in the right place” and “pick a side” ahead of a “new world order”.

Police say that no instances of a domestic disturbance between Johnson and her 29-year-old boyfriend Jaelen Chaney had been reported previously and that the motive for the mother-of-two’s shocking actions was still unclear.

Here is what we know:

Who was Danielle ‘Ayoka’ Johnson?

Johnson – known online as Danielle Ayoka – was an astrology influencer and would-be spiritual healer, claiming to be a certified Reiki Master Teacher trained in over 10 different “alternative healing modalities.”

According to her website, she suffered a near-death experience at the age of three, which “served as her rite of passage into Shamanism”. The site says she came from a line of Indigenous Shaman and Medicine Women which caused her “spiritual gifts” to “blossom”.

She studied psychology at the undergraduate level before starting her professional career.

Johnson began tutelage with a personal healer in 2011, spending three years in training. From this, she claimed to have created a unique method of healing that combined her training with her previous knowledge of “energy, physics and psychology”.

She was also an aspiring musical artist – producing low-fi and electronic music under the name Ayoka.

The artist released an album in 2020, followed by several singles in 2021. The most popular track, Weekend, has around 200,000 listens on Spotify.

Business endeavours

Johnson’s personal net worth is unknown, and it is unclear to whom the Porsche SUV in which she made her desperate escape belonged.

Her website offers a variety of services such as rituals, intuitive guidance, remote healing and astrology. The various “aura cleanses” range in price from $2.99 to $150 per month, though other family and friends packages were available.

She claimed to have subscribers worldwide, from the US and Canada to Japan, China, India, Australia, South Africa, West Africa, London, Korea, New Zealand, and Spain.

Johnson also operated a page on the online shopping platform Etsy, under the username RichGirlMagic. Item prices range around $15 with over 800 recorded sales and 100 five-star reviews.

Products listed on the page include other spiritual and healing therapies such as audio tarot, guided meditation packages, and Zodiac healing cleanses.

The Zodiac healing cleanse is described as “a remote energy work service that is designed to help each sign overcome the hurdles holding them back from their full potential”. The cleanses are “one-time use” and “automatically links to your aura” once purchased.

Customers must purchase the product again if they wish to repeat it. Etsy currently states that the online shop is “taking a short break”.

Social media

Johnson had a sizable social media following, with thousands of followers on various platforms and more than 100,000 followers on X, where she posted regularly.

As well as posts about her own products, some of her reposted articles pushed conspiracy theories about political events and the Covid-19 vaccine. Several posts shared by Johnson were marked as containing anti-Semitic content.

In the days before the solar eclipse on 8 April, Johnson’s posts appeared to become more erratic, and she warned followers of an impending “apocalypse” – urging them to “pick a side”.

The Eclipse and apocalypse

“This eclipse is the epitome of spiritual warfare. Get your protection on and your heart in the right place,” she wrote on 4 April. “The world is very obviously changing right now and if you ever needed to pick a side, the time to do right in your life is now. Stay strong you got this.”

A day later on 5 April, she wrote in all capitals: “Wake up wake up the apocalypse is here. Everyone who has ears listen. Your time to choose what you believe is now. If you believe a new word is possible for the people RT (retweet) now.

“There is power in choice. There is power in choice! Repost to make the choice for the collective.”

LAPD detectives investigating the incident on Monday told The Associated Press that while investigators have reviewed Johnson’s social media posts, they did not consider the eclipse to be a contributing factor in her actions.

“We’ve taken all the facts we can, but without being able to interview her and without having something more tangible than a post on X, I don’t know how much weight you can give to somebody (saying) there’s an apocalypse and attribute it to one of the most horrific murders we’ve had in LA,” LAPD Lt. Guy Golan said.

Following the incident other social media users replied to Johnson’s pinned post, warning of the apocalypse, and speculating over her mental state – with some suggesting she was suffering from “psychosis”.

What happened to her children?

Johnson’s nine-year-old daughter is the sole survivor of their mother’s horrific killing spree. According to witnesses, the child witnessed the initial stabbing of her partner before being thrown from the moving vehicle along with her infant sister.

The pair were “forcibly pushed” from the vehicle, with the girl holding the eight-month-old child, Mr Golan said. Authorities said the infant was killed by oncoming traffic.

Good Samaritans found the children on the freeway and called 911. Emergency responders pronounced the baby dead at the scene, and her older sister was transported to a hospital.

The surviving child was later placed in the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

According to Fox11, the child’s father currently resides out of state, though may potentially take custody of her. Specifics of the arrangement remain unclear.

Danielle Johnson was an astrology influencer and would-be spiritual healer
Danielle Johnson was an astrology influencer and would-be spiritual healer (@MysticxLipstick/Twitter)

Who is her boyfriend?

Police identified the 29-year-old victim of Johnson’s rampage as her partner, Jaelen Allen Chaney, a former member of the US military, who had dreams of becoming a weatherman.

According to a 2020 military archive, Chaney was a senior airman with the 31 Munitions Squadron armament technician when he was stationed in Italy in December of that year.

His brother Mark Chiricas said Chaney checked in with him sporadically, and that he had travelled around Europe with Johnson while he was stationed out there.

Mr Chiricas told The Daily Mail his brother did not share details of his relationship, but had sent a “concerning” message to him in November 2022 that said he had been “dealing with a lot” but it was not “appropriate” to share.

“The last message he sent to me was (wishing) me a happy birthday,” Chiricas told the outlet. “He was in the Air Force, but he had dreams to become a weatherman. He was just like the rest of us, trying to have fun and trying to have a family.”

LAPD investigators said that Chaney and Johnson had been dating for around three years and were living together.

Mr Golan added that there had been no prior incidence of domestic violence ever reported between the couple, per CBS, though neighbours said that on the night of the incident they had heard a loud argument coming from their home in Woodland Hills, a neighbourhood north of LA.

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