‘Vanished Into Thin Air’: The Search For a Romantic Rival Accused of Murdering a Cyclist

·4 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Handout
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Handout

A Texas woman accused of fatally shooting a rising professional cyclist after becoming enraged over a relationship the woman previously had with her live-in boyfriend sold her Jeep to a local car dealership before going on the lam, authorities said Thursday.

Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, the amateur cyclist and yoga teacher who has been missing for more than a month, is facing charges for the May 11 killing of 25-year-old Anna Moriah Wilson, a Vermont native who was in Austin for an upcoming race. There is currently a $21,000 reward for information leading to Armstrong’s arrest in the murder authorities believe was spurred by jealousy over another cyclist, Colin Strickland, who had briefly been involved with Wilson and had seen her on the day of her death.

The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force on Thursday painted a picture of 34-year-old Armstrong carefully orchestrating an effort to go off the grid.

Authorities say that two days after Wilson was found shot dead in an Austin apartment, Armstrong sold her black Jeep Grand Cherokee to a CarMax dealership in south Austin for $12,200.

“Armstrong was provided a check from the dealership a day after being questioned by Austin authorities,” the Marshals said on Thursday. “She departed the Austin airport on May 14.”

Investigators now believe that Armstrong took a flight from Austin International Bergstrom Airport that afternoon to Houston, before boarding a connecting Southwest flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York.

On May 18, Armstrong was last seen being dropped off at the Newark Liberty International Airport—one day after Austin police issued a homicide warrant for her arrest in connection with Wilson’s murder. Authorities say that Armstrong got a ride to the New Jersey airport, but found that she did not have any flight reservations for an outbound flight.

Docs Detail ‘Furious’ Jealousy of Woman Accused of Killing Cycling Star

Video of her at the airport showed Armstrong with a blue denim jacket, white jeans, a black COVID mask, and possibly a yoga mat on her shoulders.

For Debra Cronin, who used to be married to Wilson’s grandfather, the idea that Armstrong has been able to evade authorities for more than a month is “really upsetting.”

Noting that Wilson was a part of her life for 15 years, Cronin told The Daily Beast that she could barely wrap her mind around the idea that “Moriah was brutally murdered by a yoga teacher—which is not very zen—but that the teacher is getting away with it!”

“It’s unbelievable that someone can get away with murder now,” Cronin told The Daily Beast. “Police had her in their custody and they let her go! It sucks. Moriah deserves justice and nothing is adding up.”

The grim saga began just before 10 p.m. on May 11, when authorities received a call from one of Wilson’s friends—with whom she was staying—who discovered her with multiple gunshot wounds. When officers arrived, they found the friend performing CPR and multiple cartridge casings on the floor. Officers pronounced Wilson dead shortly after.

Prior to her death, authorities learned that Wilson had gone swimming and grabbed dinner with Strickland, a champion gravel racer described by his sponsor, Red Bull, as one of the sport’s “leading lights.” Wilson is believed to have returned home from hanging out with Strickland at around 8:36 p.m.

Footage from a neighbor’s security camera, obtained by Fox 7, gave cops their first clue. It showed a “dark-colored SUV” drive past the friend’s house at 8:37 p.m., exactly one minute after Wilson walked back in from her swim with Strickland.

“The dark-colored SUV then slowed down, appearing to come to a stop, directly next to [the friend’s] residence,” according to a probable cause affidavit for Armstrong’s arrest. “The SUV appeared to have a large bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch of the vehicle, a luggage rack mounted on the roof, and what appeared to be chrome around the windows. No other vehicles were observed on video surveillance passing by until marked emergency vehicles arrived.”

The next day, authorities went to Strickland’s house and observed a 2012 Jeep Cherokee “with a large bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch of the vehicle, a luggage rack mounted on the roof, and chrome around the windows that appeared to be the same vehicle observed on surveillance footage.”

Strickland said that he and Armstrong had been together for about three months and admitted to briefly dating Wilson in October 2021. He added that Armstrong returned home the previous night in her Jeep at around 9:30.

Authorities briefly interviewed Armstrong after discovering she had an open misdemeanor warrant on a theft of services charge. During the interview, “Armstrong was confronted with video evidence of her vehicle, [and] she had no explanation as to why it was in the area and did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her,” the affidavit continues.

Armstrong, however, was released after detectives determined the warrant “was not valid” and she was free to leave.

That left those who knew Wilson flummoxed at authorities—and, to some extent, in awe of an accused murderer being so successful at evading capture.

“It’s like she just vanished into thin air,” Cronin said.

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