The prime suspect in the shooting death of a world-class cyclist has been apprehended, more than a month after she allegedly went on the run.
Kaitlin Armstrong, 34, is accused of killing Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson, 25. She allegedly had become jealous of Wilson after discovering that her boyfriend and Wilson had a fling while he and Armstrong were on a break.
A weeks-long manhunt for the suspect has come to an end with federal authorities apprehending Armstrong in Costa Rica on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Marshals.
Authorities had been tracking the yoga instructor’s movements since Wilson’s fatal shooting in Austin, Texas, on May 11. Armstrong reportedly fled the state before they could issue a homicide warrant for her arrest, which they only received after ballistics experts determined that the likelihood Armstrong’s 9 mm handgun was the murder weapon was “significant."
Officials say Armstrong boarded a flight at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on May 14, stopped in Houston for a layover and then arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. On May 18 — one day after Austin Police obtained a warrant for her arrest — Armstrong was spotted on security footage at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, though authorities said at the time that they found no evidence that Armstrong boarded a flight under her name.
According to Thursday’s announcement, officials say Armstrong had, in fact, boarded a plane using a phony passport.
“Members of the U.S. Marshals-led Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations recently discovered that Armstrong, using a fraudulent passport, had boarded United Airlines Flight 1222 from Newark International Airport at 5:09 p.m. EST on May 18 and arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at 8:27 p.m. EST,” officials stated.
Working with the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and authorities in Costa Rica, officials located and arrested Armstrong at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Province de Puntarenas.
“The Marshals Service elevated the Kaitlin Armstrong investigation to major case status early in this investigation, which likely played a role in her capture after a 43-day run,” stated Susan Pamerleau, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas. “This is an example of combining the resources of local, state, federal and international authorities to apprehend a violent fugitive, bring an end to that run, and hopefully a sense of closure to the victim’s family.
Officials believe Armstrong shot Wilson multiple times at an Austin residence where Wilson was staying to participate in the Gravel Locos cycling competition in Hico, Texas. (Wilson was from Vermont). Surveillance video captured Armstrong’s 2012 Jeep Cherokee stopping at the residence around the time Wilson was murdered.
Earlier that evening, Wilson reportedly met with Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland. Strickland, a fellow cyclist who knew Wilson from previous sporting events, said the two had a brief, romantic fling with Wilson back in October, when he and Armstrong entered a temporary separation. He said there was no ongoing romantic attachment between him and Wilson.
Strickland cooperated with authorities, telling them he had to hide his current professional relationship with Wilson from Armstrong. Armstrong reportedly learned about the fling in January, with witnesses saying she became “furious” and was “shaking with anger,” according to the arrest affidavit.
A witness said that Armstrong “wanted to kill Wilson.”
Armstrong was less than cooperative with investigators in her interviews, putting an end to questioning when confronted about her Jeep being located near the crime scene.
Then, Armstrong — and her Jeep — went missing.
U.S. Marshals found Armstrong’s Jeep last week: She'd sold it to a CarMax dealership in south Austin on May 13, just one day before she fled the state. Armstrong allegedly walked away with a $12,000 check from the sale, according to Thursday’s release.
On May 25, investigators with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas issued a warrant for Armstrong’s arrest, charging her with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
It remains unclear what Armstrong did between arriving in New York on May 14 and flying to Costa Rica on May 18. Authorities did not say whether she had ties to Costa Rica, or who might have dropped her off at the Newark airport. Requests to the U.S. Marshals Service by Oxygen.com were not immediately returned.
Armstrong is expected to be deported to the United States.