AUSTIN (KXAN) — Murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong fled the country using the passport of someone “closely associated” to her on May 18. Armstrong tried to hide in Costa Rica by changing her appearance and using fake names, U.S. Marshals said Thursday at a press conference.
U.S. Marshals provided more details during the press conference on how they caught Armstrong, ending a 43-day search for the woman connected to the deadly shooting of a professional cyclist in east Austin.
Immigration officials arrested Armstrong in Costa Rica related to the use of the fraudulent passport, U.S. Marshals said. The State Department flagged her flight from New Jersey to Costa Rica. Authorities in Costa Rica began the search for Armstrong soon after she arrived in the country, U.S. Marshals said.
Armstrong, 34, is accused of shooting and killing world-class cyclist Moriah “Mo” Wilson in mid-May in east Austin. Investigators found out Armstrong used a fraudulent passport to fly from Newark, New Jersey to Costa Rica just one week after the murder. She was found on June 29 at Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica, U.S. Marshals said.
When she was arrested, U.S. Marshals said her appearance had changed, with her hair being chopped to shoulder-length and dyed brown. Her nose was different, too — there was bruising under her eyes. She told authorities the change was from a “surfing accident,” U.S. Marshals said.
Armstrong used the names Beth and Liz Martin to conceal her identity, officials said.
U.S. Marshals said Armstrong was involved in the yoga community and was planning to teach yoga in Costa Rica. Authorities said they used yoga to find the 34 year old.
“She was exhausted. It took a little bit of time for her to reveal her true identity,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla said after Armstrong was caught by local authorities.
Regarding the phony passport Armstrong used to leave the U.S., Filla said that remains an active investigation, but he added authorities passed along information to federal prosecutors in Texas and New York who will look into whether someone else will face charges for that.
This past Saturday, Armstrong landed back in Texas and was booked into the Harris County Jail. She was then transferred to the Travis County Jail Tuesday. Jail records show she’s being held on a $3.5 million bond.
Armstrong also faces a misdemeanor theft charge, jail records said, as well as a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, according to U.S. Marshals.
May 11 — Woman found dead in east Austin home
The night of May 11, Austin Police responded to a 911 call in east Austin for a residence along Maple Avenue. Police found an unconscious woman who was shot. She died from her injuries at the scene.
May 12 — Austin Police question Kaitlin Armstrong on shooting
The Austin Police Department questioned Armstrong on May 12, Detective Richard Spitler confirmed in an APD news conference. Questions centered around Armstrong’s Jeep, which was in the area near the east Austin home around the time of Wilson’s death.
According to Spitler, Armstrong “wouldn’t confirm or deny being in the area” and ended the interview.
May 13 — Armstrong sells her Jeep in Austin
Armstrong sold the vehicle May 13 to a CarMax dealership in south Austin for $12,200. She received a check from the dealership one day after being questioned by Austin Police.
May 14 — East Austin shooting victim identified
Three days later, police identified the victim as Anna Moriah “Mo” Wilson, a professional cyclist known for her gravel and mountain bike racing. She was visiting Texas to compete in the Gravel Locos Race 135 miles north of Austin in Hico, cycling outlet VeloNews reported.
May 14 — Armstrong flies from Austin to New York
Around 12:30 p.m. on May 14, Armstrong flew from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Houston Hobby Airport before connecting to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, U.S. Marshals said. Surveillance footage showed her passing through AUS.
May 17 — Arrest warrant issued for Armstrong
May 18 — Armstrong flies to Costa Rica
Armstrong left the country, landing in San Jose, Costa Rica. Authorities in Costa Rica began to search for the 34-year-old yoga instructor.
May 20 — Federal agents begin search for Armstrong
On May 20, U.S. Marshals issued a wanted poster for Armstrong. The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force entered the search and was “conducting a fugitive investigation and pursuing leads on Armstrong’s whereabouts.”
May 21 — Wilson’s family clears up details of alleged relationship with Strickland
“While we will not elaborate about the ongoing investigation, 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,” the family wrote in the statement.
June 29 — Armstrong captured in Costa Rica
After more than a month of hiding, Armstrong was captured at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica.