AUSTIN, Texas—The suspect in the killing of professional cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson in Texas tried to change her appearance and used several aliases as she moved around Costa Rica in an attempt to establish herself as a yoga teacher before she was tracked down by U.S. and local authorities, investigators said Thursday.
Kaitlin Armstrong, 34, had cut and darkened her hair, and had a bandage on her nose and discoloration under her eyes when she was arrested at a beachside hostel on an immigration charge on June 29, Brandon Filla, deputy U.S. Marshal said a news conference to detail the 43-day search for her.
Filla declined to say whether authorities believed Armstrong had some sort of surgery to change her facial features. Filla said Armstrong told investigators when she was arrested that the bandage was for an injury from a surfing accident.
“When she was encountered by uniformed officers in Costa Rica, she didn’t give her true identity at first,” Filla said. “But when she was taken into custody and questioned, minutes later she confessed to her true identity.”
Armstrong had moved around Costa Rica visiting yoga studios and hostels while investigators searched for her, Filla said.
“She took a journey,” Filla said. “She was really trying to build something to where she could instruct yoga there in Costa Rica.”
Armstrong was taken back to Texas and is now in custody in Travis County, where she is being held on a $3.5 million bond on murder and other charges. Armstrong’s attorney, Rick Cofer declined to comment Thursday.
Wilson, 25, was found dead on May 11, and Austin police on May 19 issued a murder warrant for Armstrong.
Armstrong left Austin for New York shortly after Wilson was killed, then flew from Newark, New Jersey to Costa Rica using the passport of someone “closely associated with her,” Filla said, without identifying that person.
Whether that person will face charges will be a matter for federal prosecutors, he said.
Wilson, a competitive gravel and mountain bike racer and Vermont native known as “Mo,” had been in Austin for a cycling event. According to an affidavit, Wilson had previously dated Armstrong’s boyfriend, cyclist Colin Strickland, who has cooperated with investigators and is not a suspect.
According to the affidavit, Armstrong’s SUV was seen on surveillance video outside the home where Wilson was found shot to death.
By Jim Vertuno