Authorities: Texas woman wanted for the killing of an elite cyclist who had a relationship with her boyfriend
(CNN) — Authorities are searching for a Texas woman whom they accuse of murder in the death of an elite cyclist who at one time dated her boyfriend.
The U.S. Marshals Service is conducting a fugitive investigation into the whereabouts of Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, 34, who is wanted on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the May 11 shooting of 25-year-old Anna Moriah Wilson.
Anyone with information about Armstrong’s whereabouts is being urged to contact authorities, the Marshals Service said in a news release Friday.
Wilson was staying at the home of a friend in Austin, Texas, ahead of a cycling race in Hico when she was shot multiple times, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Travis County District Court.
The affidavit describes how the victim and suspect had recently been in romantic relationships with the same man — professional cyclist Colin Strickland — and detailed text messages and interviews with tipsters suggesting jealousy could be a potential motive.
On the day of the killing, Wilson told her friend she was going for an afternoon swim with Strickland, the affidavit says — a detail Strickland confirmed in an interview with police. They had dinner together afterward, Strickland said, before he dropped Wilson off at her friend’s home. He did not go inside.
Austin police responded to the home later that evening, shortly before 10 p.m. local time, to find Wilson’s friend performing CPR on her, per the affidavit. Wilson appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and officers saw “multiple fired cartridge cases on the floor” nearby, though a firearm was not seen. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Austin Police Department said in a May 14 news release the “shooting does not appear to be a random act.”
Authorities have since identified Armstrong, whom Strickland was living with in Austin, as the main suspect in Wilson’s death. The affidavit for her arrest points in part to video surveillance obtained by investigators which shows a vehicle similar to Armstrong’s near the home of Wilson’s friend shortly before her body was found.
Ballistic evidence found at the scene of the killing has been compared to bullets test-fired from a firearm Strickland recently purchased for Armstrong, according to the affidavit. Based on the results, the “potential that the same firearm was involved is significant,” the document says.
“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter and sister, Anna Moriah Wilson,” Wilson’s family said in a statement issued to CNN, describing her as a talented and caring person who wanted to empower people to find joy through sport. “There are no words that can express the pain and suffering we are experiencing due to this senseless, tragic loss.”
Wilson’s family said it would not elaborate on the investigation, which remains ongoing, the statement said. But “we do feel it’s important to clarify that at the time of her death, those closest to her clearly understood, directly from Moriah, that she was not in a romantic relationship with anyone.”
Suspect’s vehicle was seen in footage near scene, affidavit says
Wilson, who went by “Mo,” was an alpine skier at Dartmouth College, but transitioned to pursuing her dreams as a bike racer after graduating, according to her obituary. Outside of sports, she enjoyed “cooking, writing, and traveling,” it says, adding, “she especially loved Italy, Taco Tuesdays, maple creemees and playing Catan with her friends.”
At the time of her death, Wilson was just days from participating in the Gravel Locos bike race. On May 15, the day after the race, an event organizer remembered her on Facebook as a “role model, a shy compassionate person, a spirited tactical racer and a competitor that genuinely cared about those competing against you.”
She “inspired many, lived fully, and loved fiercely,” a GoFundMe fundraiser organized by Wilson’s family said.
Strickland considered Wilson to be one of the best cyclists in the world, he told police, and a VeloNews feature published on the day of her death called her “the winningest woman in the American off-road scene.” Wilson won a series of races in California this spring, the article notes, before traveling to Austin.
In a statement to the Austin American-Statesman, Strickland said he had a “brief relationship” with Wilson from late October to early November 2021, during a time when she was visiting Austin.
“At the time, she and I had both recently ended relationships,” his statement said.
Strickland and Armstrong later reconciled and resumed their relationship, he told the paper, and his relationship with Wilson turned “platonic and professional.”
“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime,” Strickland said, per the newspaper. “I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable situation.”
Strickland told police he began his romantic relationship with Wilson during a two-week period when he was separated from Armstrong, according to the affidavit.
His relationship with Wilson continued in some capacity after he resumed his relationship with Armstrong, per the affidavit, which also cites a tipster alleging Armstrong came to believe Strickland and Wilson’s romantic relationship was ongoing as of January 2022. Strickland admitted to trying to hide his communications with her from Armstrong by changing Wilson’s name in his phone and deleting texts, the affidavit says.
Armstrong had contacted Wilson several times and in one instance told her to “stay away” from Strickland, one of Wilson’s friends told investigators, according to the affidavit.
Multiple law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation obtained security camera footage which captured what appeared to be Armstrong’s car — a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch — near the house before Wilson’s body was found, according to the affidavit.
Within 24 hours of Wilson’s death, officers from the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force apprehended Armstrong in connection with an unrelated arrest warrant and spoke to her. However, Austin police then said they learned Armstrong’s arrest warrant was not valid and told her she was free to leave.
Armstrong requested to end the interview and left after detectives began confronting her about the security camera video that placed her car near the crime scene, the affidavit states.
Per the affidavit, Strickland told police he has not had contact with Armstrong since May 13.
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