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US astrology influencer 'upset' over solar eclipse fatally stabs partner, kills baby before dying

Danielle Johnson posted as an astrology influencer under the moniker 'Ayoka' and called the solar eclipse "the epitome of spiritual warfare" days before the incident. She fatally stabbed her partner and threw her two daughters out of a moving vehicle on a highway, killing her 8-year-old infant.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Los Angeles Updated on: April 11, 2024 10:04 IST
US astrology influencer, solar eclipse
Image Source : AYOKA (X) US astrology influencer Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, 34.

Los Angeles: In a shocking incident, a female astrology influencer fatally stabbed her partner and threw her two children from a moving vehicle on a Los Angeles highway, killing her infant daughter - all because she was reportedly upset about the impending solar eclipse, whom she referred to as the "epitome of spiritual warfare" in an online post days ago. The woman was identified as Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, 34, who stabbed her partner on Monday.

According to police, Johnson posted on X as an astrology influencer and recording artist with the moniker "Ayoka", in the days before the incident, which began hours before the solar eclipse peaked in Southern California. Lieutenant Guy Golan said while detectives have reviewed Johnson’s posts, police are not considering the eclipse to be a precipitating or contributing factor to the slayings “because we just don’t know why she did what she did".

“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,” Golan, who is head of the homicide unit investigating the case, said.

Throngs of skywatchers across North America gazed upward at a blackened sun in the midday dusk on Monday, celebrating with cheers, music and matrimony the first total solar eclipse to darken the continent in seven years. Total solar eclipses happen somewhere around the world every 11 to 18 months, but they don’t often cross paths with millions of people.

Johnson's crime and death

Johnson and her partner Jaelen Allen Chaney, 29, had an argument at around 3:40 am (local time) on Monday in their apartment in Woodland Hills, after which she stabbed him and fled with her children, an 8-month-old girl and her nine-year-old sister, in a Porsche Cayenne. Johnson then drove on a highway and threw her daughters out of the moving SUV, according to authorities.

The baby was pronounced dead on the road, but the older daughter — who witnessed the stabbing — survived with moderate injuries. After throwing her daughters out of the car, Johnson travelled southwest, where she was driving over 160 km per hour and crashed into a tree, resulting in her death. The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether the crash was an apparent suicide.

Golan said there were no calls for police to respond to the couple’s apartment before Monday’s killing when neighbours called 911 after seeing the door open. Johnson did not have a felony criminal record in California and there were no indications of reported domestic violence. Detectives also did not immediately link the Woodland Hills slaying to the daughters, he added.

Golan further informed that detectives discovered candles and cards inside the apartment, but he was not sure whether they were tarot cards. "They didn’t look like your standard deck of cards that you would play poker with," he said.

Johnson's social media presence

Reports suggest that Johnson was found horribly disfigured after the crash, and her social media posts gained attention after her death. “Get your protection on and your heart in the right place,” she posted on April 4 to more than 105,000 followers on X. “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.”

Johnson, also known online as 'Ayoka', posts a mix of antisemitic screeds, conspiracy theories about vaccines and warnings about the end of the world alongside astrological predictions and positive affirmations. Her personal website offers a variety of services including "zodiac healing work", "alcohol balancing system" and an "aura cleanse".

On April 5, she posted in all caps, "Wake up wake up the apocalypse is here. Everyone who has ears listen. Your time to choose what you believe is now". She also posted the word “LOVE” dozens of times. Johnson’s internet presence and online following dates back years. The Fader, a music magazine, interviewed her in 2016 as an astrology personality.

“She was very standoffish,” said Norman Linder, a Woodland Hills neighbour. Another neighbour Anita Mazer, told the Associated Press that when she saw the family, "I just said ‘hello.’ The baby was really cute," she said Wednesday. "It’s horrible".

The solar eclipse’s path of totality stretched from Mazatlan, Mexico, to Newfoundland, Canada, a swath approximately 115 miles (185 kilometres) wide. People celebrating the eclipse were engulfed in darkness at state parks, on city rooftops and in small towns when the moon blocked out the sun, though Southern California only saw a partial eclipse that peaked at 11.12 am.

Across the globe, the celestial event spawned fears of the apocalypse and other suspicions rooted in religion and spirituality. But Golan noted that others who posted online about their eclipse-related worries did not commit violence like Johnson. “How many people wrote about it...and didn’t go out and murder somebody?" he added.

(with AP inputs)

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