AUSTIN (KXAN) — Murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong fled the country using the passport of someone “closely associated” to her on May 18, and attempted to hide in Costa Rica by changing her appearance and using fake names, the U.S. Marshals Service said Thursday at a press conference.
U.S. Marshals provided more details Thursday afternoon on how they apprehended Armstrong, ending a 43-day search for the woman connected to the deadly shooting of a professional cyclist in Texas.
Authorities in Costa Rica began the search for Armstrong soon after she arrived in the country, U.S. Marshals said. The State Department had flagged her flight from New Jersey to Costa Rica, and immigration officials arrested Armstrong for the use of a fraudulent passport.
Armstrong, 34, is accused of shooting and killing world-class cyclist Moriah “Mo” Wilson in mid-May in east Austin. Investigators discovered 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 Armstrong’s appearance had changed, with her hair being chopped down to shoulder-length and dyed brown. Her nose was different — there was bruising under her eyes. She told authorities the bruising was the result of a “surfing accident,” Marshals said.
Armstrong used the names Beth and Liz Martin to conceal her identity, according to authorities.
Marshals said Armstrong was involved in the yoga community, and was planning to teach yoga in Costa Rica. Authorities used this information 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.
This past Saturday, Armstrong landed back in Texas and was booked into jail. She’s being held on a $3.5 million bond, jail records show.
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
Late on May 11, Austin Police arrived at a residence on Maple Avenue in east Austin in response to a 911 call. Police found an unconscious woman with a gunshot wound, who 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 Austin Police Department news conference. Questions centered around Armstrong’s Jeep, which was in the area near the Maple Avenue 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 had been 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 the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to the Houston Hobby Airport before connecting to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Surveillance footage depicted her passing through the airport in Austin.
May 17 — Arrest warrant issued for Armstrong
May 18 — Armstrong flies to Costa Rica
Armstrong traveled the country, landing in San Jose, Costa Rica. Authorities in Costa Rica began the search for the 34-year-old yoga instructor.
May 20 — Federal agents begin search for Armstrong
On May 20, the U.S. Marshals Service issued a wanted poster for Armstrong. The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force entered the search and began “conducting a fugitive investigation and pursuing leads on Armstrong’s whereabouts.”
May 21 — Wilson’s family clears up details of alleged relationship with Strickland
On May 21, Wilson’s family issued a statement to KXAN clarifying details surrounding Wilson’s alleged romantic relationship with Armstrong’s boyfriend.
“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.