Feds Say Kaitlin Armstrong's Yoga Habit Helped Them Track Her Down In Costa Rica

·4 min read

The fugitive yoga instructor wanted in the murder of world-class cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson has been returned to Texas after her capture in Costa Rica.

Kaitlin Armstrong, 34, was booked into the Travis County Jail on Tuesday, less than a week after federal and international authorities apprehended her at a Costa Rica hostel, according to the Austin Police Department. Jail records show she is charged with first-degree murder and also being held on a federal retainer, meaning that federal charges are pending.

In May, authorities with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas issued a federal warrant charging Armstrong with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution after she allegedly fled the state of Texas while they were investigating her for the murder of Wilson.

Armstrong is accused of shooting Wilson to death on May 11 at an Austin residence, where the Vermont-raised athlete was staying in preparation for an upcoming competition in Hico, Texas. According to authorities investigating the murder, Armstrong allegedly murdered Wilson in a fit of jealousy, believing her boyfriend and Wilson were in contact.

The boyfriend, fellow pro cyclist Colin Strickland, said that he'd briefly been involved with Wilson in October during a time when he and Armstrong were separated. She was, friends told police, enraged at Wilson over the fling.

And Strickland told authorities that, on the night of the murder, he had, in fact, met up with Wilson as friends, which allegedly sent Armstrong into a rage.

A personal photo of Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson
A personal photo of Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson

Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson Photo: Instagram

Authorities questioned Armstrong about Wilson’s murder but on May 13 — before a warrant was issued for her arrest — Armstrong allegedly sold her Jeep to a south Austin CarMax dealership for $12,000. Authorities say the Jeep was captured on surveillance camera near the crime scene on the night of Wilson’s murder.

On May 14, Armstrong then flew from Texas to New York, according to U.S. Marshals. On May 18, she used a phony passport — reportedly one issued in the name of her sister, Christine Armstrong — to board a flight from Newark to Costa Rica. 

She was captured in Costa Rica on Wednesday following a 43-day manhunt.

U.S. Marshals and other federal authorities tracked Armstrong down at Don Jon’s Lodge in the secluded surf town of Santa Teresa Beach, according to Fox News — a region on the Pacific coast known to attract travelers and backpackers.

With help from Costa Rican authorities, federal officials reportedly used Armstrong’s enthusiasm for yoga to further the investigation, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Filla told Inside Edition that Armstrong “retreated back to her hobby” and seemingly wanted to learn new yoga techniques, “possibly to instruct.”

“We knew she was going to be associated with some type of yoga studio,” said U.S. Deputy Marshal Brandon Filla. “When those foreign officials arrived at that yoga studio, they did find a handwritten log-in that was the same alias she was going by when she traveled to Costa Rica.”

Filla told the outlet that Armstrong had “cropped her hair about shoulder length” and “dyed it dark brown.”

Armstrong’s attempted to change her appearance may have gone further than a new hairstyle. Several media outlets — including Inside Edition— speculated that she may have undergone plastic surgery in an attempt to conceal her identity.

According to Fox News, authorities found a locker allegedly belonging to Armstrong following her arrest. (Lockers are common in hostels with shared dormitory spaces and Don Jon's advertises their availability on the property.) Inside the locker, they say, was documentation similar to a bill of sale showing that Armstrong paid “$6,350 in cash” for surgical alterations.

The certificate was addressed to whom “it may concern.”

Handout photos of Kaitlin Armstrong from the U.S Marshals Service
Handout photos of Kaitlin Armstrong from the U.S Marshals Service

Kaitlin Armstrong Photo: U.S Marshals Service

Also in the locker were two passports — at least according to hostel guest Zachary Paulsen, who provided photos to Inside Edition. Paulsen said the passports were in the names of Armstrong and her sister, Christine Armstrong.

Paulsen gave his account of Armstrong’s arrest.

“She was just asking about how to get around cheaper, and then the police came,” said Paulsen, who also noted that Armstrong “had a bandage on her nose” and “blood in her nostrils” during her time in Costa Rica. She claimed it was the result of a surfing accident, Paulsen told the program.

Wilson’s family made a statement following Armstrong’s arrest, according to the Austin Journal.

“We’re relieved to know this phase of uncertainty is now behind us,” said Wilson’s family. “And we trust that justice will prevail.”

On top of first-degree murder charges and the federal detainer, Armstrong is also charged with theft of service (ranging between $100 and $750) for allegedly failing to pay for a Botox procedure back in 2018, according to Fox News.

Police say Armstrong is being held on $3.5 million bond for the murder charge and $3,500 for the theft of service charge.

If convicted of the murder, Armstrong faces up to 99 years in prison, according to the American-Statesman. She will face any and all federal charges in a separate court.