On April 28, 2001, 21-year-old Erin Elizabeth Johnson was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with her boyfriend. Following an argument the couple had that evening, Johnson boarded a local bus, presumably to return to her hotel. The boyfriend reported her missing the next morning when he returned to the hotel room and could not find Johnson. On May 4, 2001, Johnson's body was found on the beach in Cabo Real, Mexico, in an advanced state of decomposition. She had been strangled to death.
Johnson was a photography and journalism student. She resided in Michigan.