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A celebrated L.A. astrology influencer’s stunning fall from ‘healer’ to solar eclipse killer

A man and a woman each hold an ice cream cone.
Danielle Johnson and her partner, Jaelen Chaney, in a family photo.
(Sharonda Cole)
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The medical examiner detailed the events slowly and with painstaking specificity.

First, she told Sharonda Cole her daughter had been killed in a predawn car crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. The young woman’s car had slammed into a tree at more than 100 mph.

Cole began to cry.

A woman's face and red hair.
Danielle Johnson, seen in an undated family photo, was an online astrologer and self-described “divine healer.”
(Sharonda Cole)

But the medical examiner had more painful news: Before the crash, Cole’s granddaughters — one 9 years old, the other 8 months old — had either fallen from or been pushed out of their mother’s car on the 405 Freeway. The baby died at the scene, while her older sister made it to the side of the road and flagged down help.

Cole’s heart sunk even further.

“Then they told me about Jae — and that was the worst,” Cole said. “They told me she had murdered her boyfriend.”

A man was stabbed, an infant was pushed from a moving car and a woman rammed into a tree in a trail of death from Woodland Hills to Redondo Beach, police say.

April 9, 2024

Authorities say Cole’s daughter, Danielle Johnson, fatally stabbed Jaelen Chaney in the heart inside their Woodland Hills apartment in the early morning hours of April 8.

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Hours later, police had pieced together the trail of tragedy and linked the three shocking scenes, attributing them all to Johnson.

“I lost it,” Cole said. “My heart was pouring out.”


Johnson, who went by the name Danielle Ayoka online, was a well-known astrologer, self-described “divine healer” and reiki practitioner. The 34-year-old had a significant following on X, formerly Twitter, and customers who paid for healing services through her website.

As interest in astrology surged in the 2010s, Johnson’s popularity grew. Refinery 29 raved about her “brilliant gift for calling out the nonsense of any sun sign in need of real truths.” Fader magazine gave glowing reviews of her “dead on descriptions of each zodiac sign and [guiding] them to wellness through detailed moon rituals.”

Around 2014, Johnson started Mystic Lipstick, which she branded to offer “energy work” to the public, her mother said. Within three years, she had more than 50,000 followers on X, where she posted long threads about zodiac signs and how each handled romantic relationships, among other things.

But behind the persona of a magical healer, Johnson fought “legions of demons,” her mother said, struggling with mental health issues, “low-vibrational energy” and postpartum depression after the birth of her first child.

Cole said she tried to get Johnson to seek help. She thought her daughter should see her own reiki healer or try something more traditional, such as talking with a therapist or psychologist.

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“Nobody knew what was happening because she was so good at seeming like she was good,” Cole said. “But she was not good for a while.”

In the days before the killings and Johnson’s suicide, her online messages became increasingly alarmist. She seemed especially disturbed by the solar eclipse, calling the astronomical event “the epitome of spiritual warfare” and telling people they needed to “pick a side.” She said: “The apocalypse is here.”

Her actions — hours before the eclipse — raise a question: How could someone so trusted, respected and concerned for the spiritual well-being of others have been so unwell herself?

A man.
Jaelen Chaney was killed by his partner, Danielle Johnson, in their Woodland Hills apartment.
(Facebook)

Cole was 17 when Johnson was born. With the baby’s father not in the picture, mother and daughter lived with Cole’s aunt and uncle, who were also raising Cole at the time. Johnson was “the brightest of bright lights,” always running through their house in Maryland, her mother recalled.

By the time Johnson was in high school, she had moved in with Cole’s brother and sister-in-law, Cole said, who acknowledged struggling with drug addiction. Johnson attended Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she studied psychology, sang in the choir and learned piano — though she did not graduate.

As Cole worked to stay clean, she said, she and her daughter struggled to repair their relationship. Around this time, Johnson began to do reiki work, an alternative form of energy healing.

“She started working with me, trying to help me heal not just the wounds between her and I, but my wounds from my childhood,” Cole said.

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But tensions remained, Cole said. Johnson would often tell her mother how hard her life was. She struggled with postpartum depression in 2015. She was worried about finances and distraught over the breakup of her marriage. She was tired.

Cole said she tried to help, but it was difficult.

“She saw me as being the one who injured her. And her father, of course, not being around,” Cole said.

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Despite those challenges, Johnson worked diligently for her clients, her mother said.

She offered energy cleanses and remote healing work. Customers could pay for her daily “Good Vibes,” which she said sent mood-lifting energy to their homes at 7 every morning. She offered energy cleanses and, for $150 a month, a healing series.

Although Johnson touted the benefits her subscribers were seeing, some complained. According to messages reviewed by The Times, Johnson became increasingly hard to reach, and some believed they were paying for services but not getting the spiritual guidance they had hoped for.

She also blogged about spiritual issues, writing one post about “toxic nurturing.” In it, Johnson said this can happen when people aren’t loved properly by their parents. Cole said the post read as though her daughter was describing herself.

“These children often grow up wanting to give others the love they never had. In turn, they rarely consider giving themselves that experience of love first,” Johnson wrote.

“I think she completely understood, however failed to diagnose and treat her own wounds,” Cole said. “She thought she could ignore these very same behaviors, instead choosing to blame me, and then refused to allow forgiveness to take place so that she could ultimately release what was causing her pain.”


It was not until she moved in with Johnson in 2021 that Cole said she realized the struggles her daughter was facing.

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Johnson had moved to Los Angeles in 2019 to embark on a career in the music industry. She made R&B songs under the stage name Ayoka.

Mother and daughter were working on a brand of candles called Rich Girl Magic and living in a North Hollywood apartment with Johnson’s then-fiance.

When things were good, they were great, Cole said. But the pressure of work and life sometimes got to Johnson, her mother said, and they increasingly clashed. Johnson’s workload increased, and that worsened the tensions. Sometimes, Johnson woke her mother at 3 a.m. asking her to interpret dreams, she said.

Cole said her daughter often became incensed over her social media posts that didn’t perform well. The two fought frequently, Cole said, and during one argument, Johnson became physically violent. Soon after, she told her mother to move out, and Cole said she spent the next two years in homeless shelters in Los Angeles.

Around the same time, Cole said, her daughter was falling in love with a new man, an Air Force veteran she’d met through her website.


Jaelen Chaney was outgoing and caring, with an infectious laugh and a smile that could light up a room. Family described him as smart, a well-behaved kid who grew up in Michigan and moved to Florida for high school. He joined the Air Force after graduation and traveled the world.

His friends say he was popular and funny.

Jenna Butler remembered attending the same Christian youth group as Chaney and said he had the funniest laugh in the world, one that could brighten everyone’s day.

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“He just had so much joy,” Butler said.

Chaney, 29, was a great listener, friends said, a confidant with whom you could share personal problems.

Cole said the same was true with her daughter.

A woman's face.
An undated selfie of Danielle Johnson.
(Twitter)

Johnson met Chaney online while he was stationed in Italy, her mother said. He was a customer first, buying candles and healing products, Cole said.

A friend of Chaney’s from high school, Michelle Joia, said the last time she spoke with Chaney a few years ago, he was getting into astrology and tarot card reading.

Johnson and Chaney’s business relationship soon turned romantic, Cole said.

“He was an emotional soldier for her,” Cole said, adding that “he would listen to her for hours” during phone calls from Italy. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to be with her.

Butler met the couple when they were visiting Florida in 2022, before Johnson was pregnant, she said. The three grabbed lunch in Orlando, and Butler said Johnson seemed “very nice.”

“I didn’t see anything off when I met her. It was just normal couple stuff,” she said.

But later that year, Chaney’s brother, Matthew Chirikas, said Chaney texted him with a cryptic message indicating he and Johnson were having problems, according to reports by the Daily Mail.

“I have been dealing a lot personally with my girlfriend that I don’t care to really share right now because it’s not appropriate,” Chaney told his brother, according to the outlet.

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Danielle Johnson, who killed her partner and pushed her children out of a moving car, was an astrology influencer who posted about being afraid of the solar eclipse.

April 11, 2024

Cole said that after her daughter kicked her out of the apartment, she spoke with Johnson just once more.

While walking from work to a homeless shelter where she was staying, Cole said, Chaney and Johnson pulled to the curb and got out. But instead of a conversation, Johnson wanted to relitigate past traumas, Cole said.

“I just didn’t want to be on the defense about something that happened months ago. I was like, ‘Why are we talking about this?’” Cole said.

Cole said she then began arguing with Chaney, who she said wanted her to take responsibility for the rift with her daughter. She said she tried to tell him the information he had gotten from Johnson was unreliable because she manipulated people.

“You only know what she told you. I told you, she is nothing but an illusion,” Cole said she told Chaney. The two argued a bit more before Cole walked away. “You on your own. I can’t help you,” she said to him.

Cole said she thinks she saw the couple once more, from afar, but did not engage with them.

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“He just wanted to love her. He wanted to love her the way she said she needed to be loved,” Cole said.

But in the end, that love couldn’t save either of them.

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