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Mom Who Threw 2 Kids Onto LA Freeway, Killing Her Infant, Appeared Agitated by Impending Eclipse
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By Associated Press
Published 3 months ago on
April 11, 2024

Mother who threw 2 kids onto LA freeway, killing her infant, called the impending solar eclipse “the epitome of spiritual warfare. (AP/Damian Dovarganes)

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LOS ANGELES — A woman who authorities say fatally stabbed her partner at their Los Angeles apartment Monday then threw her two children from a moving SUV onto the freeway, killing her infant daughter, was an astrologer who called the impending solar eclipse “the epitome of spiritual warfare” in an online post days earlier.

Los Angeles police believe Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, 34, posted on X as an astrology influencer and recording artist with the moniker “ Ayoka,” in the days leading up to the violence, which began hours before the eclipse peaked in Southern California, said Lt. Guy Golan.

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,” Golan told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“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.

The Incident

Authorities say Johnson and her partner, 29-year-old Jaelen Allen Chaney, had an argument around 3:40 a.m. Monday in their apartment in Woodland Hills, about 25 miles (42 km) northwest of downtown LA. Johnson stabbed Chaney and fled with her kids, an 8-month-old girl and her 9-year-old sister, in a Porsche Cayenne.

Johnson then drove along Interstate 405 in Culver City and threw her daughters out of the moving SUV around 4:30 a.m., police said. The baby was pronounced dead on the road, but the older daughter — who witnessed the stabbing — survived with moderate injuries.

Johnson traveled southwest to Redondo Beach, where a half-hour later she was driving over 100 miles per hour (160 kph) and crashed into a tree. The LAPD is investigating whether the solo crash was an apparent suicide.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on Johnson’s social media activities in connection with the killings.

Johnson’s Social Media Activity

“Get your protection on and your heart in the right place,” she posted 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.”

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.”

Her social media also included a mix of antisemitic screeds, conspiracy theories about vaccines and warnings about the end of the world alongside astrological predictions and positive affirmations. Also on April 5, she posted the word “LOVE” dozens of times. Her personal website offers a variety of services including “zodiac healing work,” “alcohol balancing system” and an “aura cleanse.”

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 neighbor. He only saw Johnson and her daughters a few times before in the apartment complex.

Another neighbor, Anita Mazer, told the AP that when she saw the family, “I just said ‘hello.’ The baby was really cute,” she said Wednesday. “It’s horrible.”

Golan said there were no calls for police to respond to the couple’s apartment prior to Monday’s killing, when neighbors 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 did not immediately link the Woodland Hills slaying to the daughters, Golan said. He was in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood when he started getting push alerts from news organizations on his cellphone about the infant’s death on the roadway in Culver City. Investigators realized there might be a connection between two missing children from the family’s apartment and the tragedy on the interstate.

“I was like ‘Oh, there’s two young girls who were stranded on the 405 Freeway.’ That is such a random and terrible thing to hear about. And we knew there were two young children,” Golan continued. “We were setting up an Amber Alert.”

Golan said 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.

The Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse’s path of totality stretched from Mazatlán, Mexico, to Newfoundland, Canada, a swath approximately 115 miles (185 kilometers) wide. Revelers 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 a.m.

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,” he said, “and didn’t go out and murder somebody?”

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