Suspect in killing of elite cyclist used someone else’s passport in escape to Costa Rica, officials say. Here’s how authorities say she was caught
(CNN) — The woman accused of killing an elite cyclist in Texas used someone else’s passport to flee to Costa Rica, where she changed her hair length and color to avoid authorities, according to the US Marshals Service.
Authorities say they found Kaitlin Marie Armstrong at a hostel in Costa Rica on Wednesday. She’s facing extradition to the United States to face murder charges in the death of Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson, who was shot May 11.
Wilson briefly dated Armstrong’s boyfriend, a professional cyclist, and investigators say romantic jealousy might have been a motivating factor.
The woman suspected of fatally shooting elite cyclist Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson in Texas has been captured in Costa Rica. @randikayeCNN and @andersoncooper report on how Kaitlin Armstrong was captured. Watch: https://t.co/X5gnMINT86
— CNN (@CNN) July 1, 2022
Here’s a timeline of the case, from Wilson’s death to the capture of Armstrong, a 34-year-old real estate agent and yoga teacher from Austin, Texas.
May 11: Wilson is found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at the home of a friend. She had told her friend she was going for an afternoon swim with Colin Strickland, 35, a professional cyclist and Armstrong’s boyfriend. He tells police he and Wilson swam and ate dinner, and he dropped her off at the friend’s home, according to an arrest affidavit in Travis County District Court.
May 12: Austin police apprehend Armstrong on an unrelated warrant. They release her after learning the warrant is invalid.
May 13: Armstrong sells her black Jeep Grand Cherokee for $12,200.
May 14: Armstrong flies from Austin to Houston to New York City.
May 17: Police issue a homicide warrant for Armstrong. It says a vehicle similar to hers was shown on video surveillance near the home shortly before Wilson’s body was found.
May 18: Armstrong is seen at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, according to the US Marshals Service. No reservation is found in her name.
May 19: An arrest warrant says Strickiland told police he tried to hide his communications with Wilson from Armstrong. It says Armstrong told Wilson to “stay away” from Strickland, one of Wilson’s friends told police.
May 25: Authorities issue a separate, federal warrant for Armstrong for “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.” Strickland tells the Austin American-Statesman that he had a “brief romantic relationship” with Wilson last year while separated from Armstrong. He tells the newspaper that he and Armstrong reconciled and that he considered Wilson a “platonic” and “close friend.”
Found 6 weeks later in another country, with another look
June 29: Authorities arrest Armstrong at a hostel in Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, according to the US Marshals Office.
June 30: Austin-based Deputy Marshal Brandon Filla tells CNN that Armstrong “changed her appearance drastically.” Her long blonde hair is now “shoulder length and dark brown,” he says.
He also reveals further details about the weeks-long search:
• Armstrong previously “resembled” the person whose passport she used to flee the country. Filla does not say how Armstrong got the passport or if its rightful owner gave it to her.
• After authorities learned of the name Armstrong might have been using to travel, US Marshals “worked with Homeland Security and looked at flight passenger lists.” They found the name matching that passport on a May 18 flight from Newark to San José, Costa Rica.
• They then scoured the surveillance cameras for the specific airport gate the flight left from and “ID’d Kaitlin Armstrong” boarding.
• US Marshals contacted Costa Rican authorities, who located Armstrong at the hostel and detained her on an immigration violation for using a fraudulent passport to enter the country.
What’s next: Filla says Armstrong will face a murder charge upon her return to Austin. She is also facing an added federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Armstrong has been returned to Texas and was being held at the Harris County Jail awaiting extradition to Austin, US Marshals said Saturday.
When she arrives in Austin, she’ll be held with bond set at $3.5 million, court records in Texas’ Travis County show.
It’s unclear if anyone else aided Armstrong in her efforts to evade the US Marshals, but Filla says “they are not ruling out others being charged” depending on where their investigation takes them.
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