In the days that have passed since the tragic death of gravel cyclist Moriah Wilson, on May 11, the Austin Police Department (APD) and the US Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force continue their homicide investigation.
Authorities confirmed that after a 43-day fugitive hunt they located and apprehended homicide suspect Kaitlin Marie Armstrong on June 29 at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica.
U.S. Marshals Office of International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, worked with authorities in Costa Rica to locate Armstrong. Authorities believe that Armstrong fraudulently used another person's passport to flee the US to Costa Rica on May 18.
She was deported and returned to the US on July 2 and then extradited to Travis County Jail in Austin on July 5. Armstrong is formally arrested on first-degree murder felony charges and held with a bond set at $3.5 million, confirmed the City of Austin Police Department in a statement sent to Cyclingnews.
Wilson was killed in a shooting at a home in East Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in a case currently under investigation by the APD. On Tuesday, May 17, the APD department issued an arrest warrant in connection to the case, naming Armstrong, a white female, age 34, as wanted on first-degree felony murder charges.
Details of the events leading up to and following the death of Wilson have been made public in four search warrants and corresponding affidavits used in the ongoing homicide investigation. These legal documents, most obtained by Cyclingnews from the City of Austin Municipal Court, give a timeline of events that authorities believe to have occurred in the hours and days before and after Wilson was shot and killed in Austin.
Armstrong, who is also a cyclist, is named as the 'partner and financial guru' of Wheelhouse, gravel racer Colin Strickland's business restoring vintage RVs. Strickland, who is not suspected of being involved in the incident and has not been accused or charged in this crime, confirmed that he and Armstrong were in a romantic relationship and were living together. He also admitted to a past romantic relationship with Wilson in 2021.
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Strickland released a public statement that expressed the "regret and torture" he felt by his proximity to the crime and that he "cooperated fully" in the investigation. He also issued a statement to Cyclingnews through his communications agent reiterating his cooperation with law enforcement.
“Mo Wilson’s loss is an unfathomable tragedy for her family, friends and the professional community that benefited so greatly from her spirit and generosity,” Strickland said. “My energy and attention are focused on continuing to fully cooperate with law enforcement to apprehend and bring her killer to justice, which I hope will provide some comfort to her family.”
Wilson’s family also issued a statement stating: “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.”
According to the author of the affidavit and application for arrest warrant for Armstrong, (5), Strickland's statements to authorities have been corroborated through video surveillance and physical evidence, he has cooperated with the investigation and has voluntarily provided statements to Homicide Detectives.
Below is a timeline of how authorities believe this crime allegedly unfolded. Cyclingnews will provide additional updates as more information becomes available by authorities throughout this investigation.
Moriah Wilson arrives in Austin, Texas, ahead of Gravel Locos held on May 14 in Hico, located between Austin and Dallas. A woman who resides at Maple Ave and a friend of Wilson's, picks her up from the airport. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
5:30 pm - The friend, who is referenced as ‘the caller’ in the warrants, leaves her residence at Maple Ave. She receives a text message from Wilson stating that she was going to meet up with a friend named 'Colin,' later fully identified by officers as Colin Strickland, to go swimming. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
As the friend left the residence she observed a large bicycle travel bag sitting next to the front door on an elevated porch, and advised Wilson to take the bag inside the house before she leaves so no one steals it. [(5)]
5:45 pm - 5:55 pm: Wilson leaves the residence at Maple Ave to swim with Strickland at the Deep Eddy Municipal Pool in Austin. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
Strickland said he picked up Wilson at Maple Ave at 5:45 pm. After swimming, they go to Pool Burger to eat. [(3), (5)] Strickland said that he picked Wilson up on his motorcycle. [(4), (5)]
8:16 pm - Strickland and Wilson leave the parking lot of Pool Burger on Strickland's motorcycle, according to a surveillance video timeline [(5)]
8:26 pm - A vehicle believed to be Armstrong’s drives northbound on Maple Ave and then westbound on East 18th St, according to a surveillance video timeline [(5)]
8:35 pm - Strickland drops Wilson off at the Maple Ave residence and then drives northbound through the alleyway, north of East 18th St, on his motorcycle, according to a surveillance video timeline [(5)]
In an interview with detectives on May 12, Strickland said he did not go inside the Maple Ave residence. [(3), (5)].
8:36 pm: Wilson goes inside using a unique electronic code to open the door of the Maple Ave residence. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
8:37 pm: A black SUV, believed to be Armstrong's, is observed travelling toward and then slowing down near the Maple Ave residence via cameras located on the back of the residence of East 18th Street. The black SUV appeared to have a foldable rear bicycle rack and a roof luggage rack and appeared to have chrome around the windows. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
No other vehicles were observed on the video surveillance passing until marked emergency vehicles arrived. [(5)]
Approximately 8:48 pm - Strickland drives southbound in the 4900 block of S I-35 SB frontage road, approximately 8 miles from the Maple Ave residence, according to surveillance video timeline. [(5)] He returns to the Fort Clark Drive residence, driving his motorcycle, where he and Armstrong reside. [(1), (5)]
In the May 12 interview with detectives, Strickland said that he sent Armstrong three unanswered text messages upon leaving the Maple Ave residence on May 11; 8:36 pm [(1), (5)] where the author of the affidavit noted that, in the message, Strickland was not honest about his whereabouts to Armstrong to hide that he was out with Wilson [(5)], followed by messages sent at approximately 8:43 pm [(3), (4), (5)] and at 9:21 pm. [(5)]
9:21 pm - Strickland is working on his bicycles in the garage for the upcoming race, when Armstrong returns to the Fort Clark Drive residence driving a black SUV. [(1), (4), (5)]
9:54 pm: Wilson’s friend returns home to her residence at Maple Ave. She noticed the door was unlocked. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
The friend also observed the large bicycle travel bag at the bottom of the stairs, partially blocking the carport. [(1)]
9:56 pm - Wilson’s friend calls 9-1-1 and reports Wilson is unresponsive on the bathroom floor. The friend performed CPR. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
APD Crime Scene Specialists located three fire cartridge cases on the floor near Wilson, with "9mm-JAG" imprinted on the head stamp. However, a firearm was not immediately observed. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
The friend also reports that Wilson’s bike appeared to be stolen. Officer’s checked the location and found Wilson’s bicycle approximately 68ft south of the Maple Ave residence concealed in thick bamboo. [(5)]
10:10 pm - First responders attempted lifesaving measures, but Wilson was pronounced deceased by a doctor. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
May 12 - Police question Strickland and Armstrong, search residence
APD officers conducted surveillance at the residence of Armstrong and Strickland located at Fort Clark Drive. Police saw Armstrong entering and exiting the 2012 black Jeep that appeared to be the vehicle observed in the surveillance footage at the Maple Ave residence. [(1), (2), (3), (4)]
A 2002 BMW motorcycle and a 1998 Mercedes were also in the driveway, believed to belong to Strickland. He said that he does not drive the Jeep, and that only Armstrong drives the Jeep. [(4), (5)]
9:20 am - Police make contact with Strickland. [(3)]
They write, "Strickland originally acted as though he did not know who Wilson was but eventually admitted to knowing her.” [(3), (4)]
Strickland voluntarily drove his vehicle to the Austin Police Department Homicide Office for a formal interview and he was advised that he was free to leave at any time. [(1), (2), (3), (4), (5)]
Strickland is not accused or charged in this crime and the affidavit (5) states that he has cooperated fully in the investigation
During the interview, Strickland advised that he knew Wilson and that they "briefly had a romantic relationship in the fall of 2021". [(2), (3), (4), (5)]
He said that he currently lives with his girlfriend Armstrong. He said they had been dating for approximately three years but briefly ended their relationship for one or two weeks in October 2021. During the break-up, he said he met Wilson. Strickland said he and Wilson had a romantic relationship before he ultimately began dating Armstrong again. [(5)]
Strickland advised that while he and Wilson were dating, Armstrong called Wilson on the phone, telling Wilson that she was the one dating Strickland. [(5)]
Throughout the interview, Strickland told detectives he had to "change Wilson's name in his phone, so Armstrong does not know who he is speaking to." He also advised that he has had to delete text messages on his phone to prevent Armstrong from finding them. [(3), (4), (5)].
Strickland also advised that he had to change Wilson’s name in his phone because Armstrong blocked Wilson’s name in his phone. [(5)]
In the interview, he said he owned a 9mm handgun that he purchased at McBride's gun store in Austin. He said he usually kept it inside a case inside the Fort Clark Drive residence but that he has never shot the gun. Strickland also told [Detective] that a second firearm, a 9mm handgun purchased at McBride's gun store, belonged to Armstrong and was inside the residence. [(1), (2)]
Strickland said he purchased both firearms between December 2021 and January 2022 [(4), (5)]. Strickland said he purchased a Springfield Armory handgun for himself and a Sig Sauer handgun for Armstrong. [(5)].
Police recover a weapon
Upon executing a search warrant, police locate the two firearms at the Fort Clark Drive residence [(1)].They also located two phones, one plugged in on the counter and one inside a purse, and a US passport belonging to Armstrong. [(4)]
After the search was complete, Armstrong was told her cell phones were being collected for evidence, and she asked how detectives would get into contact with her then, confirming detectives' belief the phones located inside belonged to Armstrong. [(4)]
Detectives learned through this interview that Armstrong owned property located at Manchester Circle and issued a warrant to search the property for any evidence related to the homicide investigation. [(1)]
Police question Kaitlin Armstrong after which she leaves
[Authorities] discovered that Armstrong had an outstanding class B warrant for her arrest. [Authorities] then located and apprehended Armstrong and transported her to the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit where she was briefly detained and questioned. However, during the interview it was relayed to detectives that the class B warrant was not valid and that she was free to leave, according to the affidavit. [(5)]
An APD detective later stated in a news conference on Tuesday, May 24 that Armstrong was released due to a date-of-birth discrepancy in the files and the class B warrant.
May 13 - Last known contact with Armstrong. [(5)]
Strickland advised authorities that he has not spoken with Armstrong since May 13. [(5)]
Also on this date, Police contacted Wilson's friend, who was fully identified in an APD report, and referred to by the pseudonym "Jane". She provided information on the condition she would remain anonymous. She said the last time Armstrong called Wilson, Armstrong told Wilson she was with Strickland and Wilson needed to "stay away from him." [(4), (5)]
May 13 - Armstrong sold black SUV for $12,200
(reports on June 23) U.S. Marshals locate the black SUV that was registered to homicide suspect Armstrong. Investigators with the task force learned that Armstrong sold the vehicle May 13 to a CarMax dealership in south Austin for $12,200 dollars. Armstrong was provided a check from the dealership a day after being questioned by Austin authorities.
May 14 - An anonymous tipster gives possible motive
According to the author of affidavit (5), an anonymous caller leaves a tip saying she was with Armstrong in January 2022, that Armstrong had just discovered Strickland had a romantic relationship with Wilson. “The caller advised Armstrong became furious and was shaking in anger. Armstrong told the caller Armstrong was so angry Armstrong wanted to kill Wilson. Armstrong then proceeded to tell the caller Armstrong had either recently purchased a firearm or was going to." [(5)]
(reports on May 25) U.S. Marshals believe that Armstrong may have fled by airplane to New York. Investigators believe Armstrong was at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on May 14 at 12:30 pm. U.S. Marshals believe that Armstrong then boarded a flight to Houston Hobby Airport followed by a connecting flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York.
Deputy US Marshal tells Cyclingnews that Armstrong could be anywhere, “What is she capable of doing now? We don’t know. All we can do is follow her trail and hope to catch up with her.”
May 15 - Police obtain video footage showing a vehicle near the scene
Detectives canvas for video surveillance footage in the Maple Ave area. The property owner of the Maple Ave residence, who also lives on the property and rents out an apartment to Wilson’s friend, tells police that on May 11, 2022, between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm, he walked into his garage and partially raised his garage door and then heard what he described as someone running down the stairs that lead to the Maple Ave apartment’s front door, and observes a bicycle travel southbound through the alleyway from the apartment.” [(5)]
May 17 - Police get ballistics results on weapon recovered from Armstrong’s residence
Police ballistic tests on the Sig Sauer recovered from the Fort Clark Drive residence show “the potential that the same firearm was involved [in Wilson’s shooting] is significant.” [(5)]
May 17 - Police issue arrest warrant for Armstrong
10:40 pm - The APD department issued an arrest warrant in connection to the case, naming Armstrong as wanted on first-degree felony murder charges. It was signed by a Judge through the City of Austin Municipal Court - District Court of Travis County and filed on Thursday, May 19, 2022.
(reports on June 6) U.S. Marshals learned new information that suggests Armstrong was dropped off at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on May 18, a day after APD obtained a warrant for her arrest. They offer a $5,000 reward for any information regarding the whereabouts of Armstrong, that would lead to her capture, and upgraded the investigation to ‘major case' status.
(reports on June 30) U.S. Marshals-led Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations discovered that Armstrong fraudulently used someone else's passport to board United Airlines Flight 1222 from Newark International Airport at 5:09 p.m. EST on May 18, arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 8:27 p.m. EST the same day.
May 20 - Strickland makes a statement, Armstrong named as a fugitive
2:26 pm - Colin Strickland released a statement posted to social media by a KVUE Austin investigative journalist. Strickland insisted his relationship with Wilson was "platonic and professional," writing, "There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime." Strickland admitted to having a week-long romantic relationship with Wilson late last year at a time when he and Armstrong had broken up.
7:51 pm - US Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force requests the public's help in locating homicide suspect Armstrong. The task force is actively conducting a fugitive investigation and pursuing leads on the whereabouts of Armstrong.
June 29 - Armstrong is captured in Costa Rica
Authorities confirm that they located and apprehended Armstrong in Costa Rica. The 43-day fugitive investigation ended at Santa Teresa Beach hostel in Costa Rica after U.S. Marshals Office of International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, working with authorities in Costa Rica, located and arrested Armstrong on June 29 at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas.
Authorities confirmed that Armstrong had fraudulently used a passport to board a flight to Costa Rica.
According to an Inside Edition report, two passports were located in a locker at the Santa Teresa Beach hostel after Armstrong's arrest. One belonged to Armstrong, and the other belonged to a family member. A $6,350 receipt for cosmetic surgery was also found in the locker under another name.
Authorities confirmed that Armstrong had changed her physical appearance by cutting and changing her hair colour to dark brown.
Authorities in Costa Rica return Armstrong to the US where she faces first-degree murder charges in connection to the shooting death of Wilson. She is held in Harris County Jail located in the Houston area, Texas, awaiting extradition to Austin.
ABC 13 Houston captured exclusive video footage (opens in new tab) of authorities escorting Armstrong through the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Armstrong kept her head down and her hair covering her face, and remained silent when questioned about her involvement in the homicide investigation.
Authorities extradited Armstrong from the Harris County jail in Houston to the Travis County Jail in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, July 5. Armstrong is held with a bond set at $3.5 million, confirmed the City of Austin Police Department in a statement sent to Cyclingnews.
APD confirmed that Armstrong was formally arrested on first-degree murder felony charges in connection with the shooting death of Moriah Wilson (opens in new tab) on May 11 in Austin. Authorities also booked her on Theft of Service charges.
Warrants (as footnotes)
1) Affidavit for a Search Warrant SW22104041: Manchester Circle, South Austin property owned by Kaitlin Armstrong - Issued by a Judge on May 12, 2022, at 6:57 pm, City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas.
2) Search Warrant SW22104043: Colin Strickland, Deoxyribonucleic Acid - Buccal Swab - saliva sample and/or Deoxyribonucleic Acid - blood draw sample - whole blood - Issued by a Judge on May 12, 2022, at 8:08 pm, City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas.
3) Search Warrant SW22104050: phone owned by Colin Strickland - Issued by a Judge on May 13, 2022, at 2:01 pm, City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas.
4) Search Warrant SW22104063: phone identified under APD Evidence Tag # and phone, identified under APD Evidence Tag #, both owned by Kaitlin Armstrong. Issued by a Judge on May 16, 2022, at 10:05 am City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas.
5) Affidavit and application for Arrest Warrant DIDC22301129: Kaitlin Marie Armstrong - Issued by a Judge on May 17, 2022 at 10:40 pm and filed on May 19, 2022 at 8:20 pm, City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas. Police affidavit (opens in new tab) as published in the Washington Post (opens in new tab). Cyclingnews has requested a copy from the Austin Municipal Court and Travis County Court.
6) Search Warrant SW22104092: Computer owned by Kaitlin Marie Armstrong - Issued by a Judge on May 19, 2022 at 10:48 am, City of Austin Municipal Court - County of Travis, Texas.
Kaitlin Armstrong captured in Costa Rica after 43-day fugitive hunt in connection to Moriah Wilson death
Authorities return Kaitlin Armstrong to US after arrest in Costa Rica
Kaitlin Armstrong extradited to Austin jail, bond set at $3.5 million
Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.