Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Instagram/Department of Justice
A Texas woman accused of fatally shooting a rising star in the professional cycling world after allegedly becoming enraged over a relationship the woman had previously had with her live-in boyfriend, is now a fugitive, with the U.S. Marshals Service trying desperately to track her down.
But as an arrest affidavit filed by an Austin police detective reveals, yoga teacher, real estate broker, and amateur cyclist Kaitlin Marie Armstrong was detained by cops on an unrelated misdemeanor charge before the warrant was declared invalid and she walked out—then vanished.
Armstrong, 34, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the killing of 25-year-old Anna Moriah Wilson, a Vermont native who was in Austin for a race. Wilson, who is known as Mo, was found dead earlier this month at a friend’s home, where she was staying. She had flown in from San Francisco a day earlier to participate in a 150-mile gravel bike race she was expected to win. Wilson recently quit her day job at Specialized Bicycles to compete full-time, and racked up 10 major wins this year alone.
The man at the center of the apparent love triangle gone wrong has been identified as Colin Strickland, a champion gravel racer described by his sponsor, Red Bull, as one of the sport’s “leading lights.” In a statement released Friday, the 35-year-old Strickland admitted he and Wilson engaged in a week-long romance last fall, after the two had each ended other relationships. Strickland and Armstrong reconciled about a month later, and he said the relationship with Wilson segued naturally into a platonic one.
“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime,” Strickland said. “I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable tragedy.”
Strickland did not immediately respond to an email sent to multiple personal and professional addresses, or a voicemail left for him on Saturday afternoon. One phone number listed in public records under Strickland’s name instead connected to his father, who described Wilson’s murder to The Daily Beast as “a tragic situation,” before saying that he didn’t think his son was willing to speak to the media.
According to the affidavit laying out probable cause for Armstrong’s arrest, the investigation into Wilson’s death began with a 911 call shortly before 10 p.m. on May 11.
Officers responded to a house in East Austin and found the caller—whose name The Daily Beast is withholding for her privacy—performing CPR on Wilson, who had multiple gunshot wounds. There were multiple cartridge casings on the floor near Wilson. At 10:10 p.m., a doctor on the scene pronounced Wilson dead, the affidavit states.
Earlier that day, Wilson had texted the friend saying that she had plans with Strickland to go swimming. The friend told police she left home for a dinner out around 5:30 that evening, and returned later to find her front door mysteriously unlocked. Upon venturing inside, the friend spotted Wilson lying on the bathroom floor, covered in blood, the affidavit states. Wilson’s Specialized S-Works bicycle was found “approximately 68 feet south of [the friend’s] residence, concealed in thick bamboo,” it says.
The friend, who did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Saturday, said she has a lock with an electronic keypad on her front door, and that it sends a notification to her phone each time the door is unlocked. She gave Wilson the code and the friend said she had gotten two alerts in the past several hours: One at 5:55 p.m., when Wilson left to go swimming, and another at 8:36 p.m., indicating that Wilson had returned, according to the affidavit. The friend told officers that she had recently changed the code and that no one else had it but her and Wilson.
Footage from a neighbor’s security camera, obtained by Fox 7, gave cops their first clue. It showed a “dark colored SUV” drive past the friend’s house at 8:37 p.m., exactly one minute after Wilson walked back in from her swim with Strickland.
“The dark colored SUV then slowed down, appearing to come to a stop, directly next to [the friend’s] residence,” the affidavit states. “The SUV appeared to have a large bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch of the vehicle, a luggage rack mounted on the roof, and what appeared to be chrome around the windows. No other vehicles were observed on video surveillance passing by until marked emergency vehicles arrived.”
The next day, the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force visited Strickland at home. In the driveway, they saw a BMW motorcycle, a 1998 Mercedes, and 2012 Jeep Cherokee “with a large bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch of the vehicle, a luggage rack mounted on the roof, and chrome around the windows that appeared to be the same vehicle observed on surveillance footage.”
Strickland voluntarily agreed to speak to investigators, and drove to Austin police headquarters for questioning.
Strickland explained that he and Armstrong had been together for about three years and lived together, according to the affidavit. He recounted their brief breakup in October 2021, which is when he said he met Wilson. While he and Wilson were dating, Armstrong called Wilson on the phone, “telling Wilson she was the one who was dating Strickland,” the affidavit continues.
Strickland told detectives that he had since changed Wilson’s name in his phone because Armstrong blocked her number to prevent him from calling her. He also said he had deleted messages from Wilson so she wouldn’t find them. On the day Wilson was found dead, Strickland said he had picked her up on his motorcycle from the friend’s house at 5:45 p.m. or so. The two went swimming at the Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest pool in Texas. When they were done, Strickland and Wilson went for burgers, after which he said he gave Wilson a ride back to her friend’s place. He did not go inside, and rode straight home after dropping her off, Strickland told police.
On the way home, Strickland stopped and sent Armstrong a text message, lying about where he had been, the affidavit states.
“Hey! Are you out?” he wrote. “I went to drop some flowers for Alison at her son’s house up north and my phone died. Heading home unless you have another food suggestion.”
Strickland said he got home at roughly 8:43 p.m. and went to the garage to work on his bikes in preparation for an upcoming race. Armstrong returned to the house at around 9:30, “driving the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the large bicycle rack mounted on the trailer hitch of the vehicle, a luggage rack mounted on the roof, and chrome around the windows,” the affidavit states. “Strickland advised Armstrong was the only occupant inside of the vehicle.”
While Strickland told cops that he owns the BMW bike and the 2002 Mercedes, he said Armstrong owns the Jeep and is the only one who drives it.
He also told police that he bought two guns in recent months, one for himself and one for Armstrong.
Love Rival Accused of Executing World-Class Cycling Star Just Before Texas Race
During the interview, Strickland “spoke very highly of Wilson and her accomplishments,” according to the affidavit. “Strickland advised Wilson was a professional cyclist and was assisting her with obtaining new sponsors. Strickland referred to Wilson as the best female cyclist in the United States and possibly the world.”
However, when Strickland described Armstrong, “he referred to her as a ‘participant’ at bicycle races while he is a ‘racer,’” the affidavit says. “Strickland stated he told Armstrong in the past she does not need to ride with him because she ‘holds him back.’ Strickland advised Armstrong normally feels as though he’s ‘grumpy’ while training because he has to wait on Armstrong due to her not being able to ride at a professional level.”
While this was going on, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force discovered that Armstrong had an open misdemeanor warrant on a theft of services charge. The team picked her up—the affidavit doesn’t specify where—and brought her to the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit. Detectives asked Armstrong if she had “heard what happened in the past 24 hours,” to which Armstrong “began to nod her head and… said one of the woman sic] in the cycling community had passed away,” the affidavit states, noting that Armstrong “was very still and did not move at all” while speaking.
“When Armstrong was confronted with video evidence of her vehicle, she had no explanation as to why it was in the area and did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her,” the affidavit continues.
Armstrong appeared to get angry when detectives asked about the relationship Strickland and Wilson had once had, but denied knowing anything about Wilson’s murder. One of the investigators then “confronted Armstrong on how seeing her vehicle in the area, coupled with the statements made by Strickland, made things not look too good,” states the affidavit. “Armstrong then again nodded her head up and down as if in agreement. Armstrong again made no effort to deny what was being said and still provided no explanation as to why her vehicle would be there.”
But things would soon take an unexpected turn. While questioning Armstrong, “it was relayed to [detectives] that the… warrant was not valid and [Armstrong] would be free to leave,” according to the affidavit. The investigators informed Armstrong that the door was open, and that she could end the interview whenever she wished.
“Armstrong then requested to leave so the interview was ended,” the affidavit says.
She had not been seen since.
A friend of Wilson’s the next day described her relationship with Strickland to detectives as “on again, off again,” and said that it hadn’t fully ended. On May 14, three days after Wilson was found dead, an anonymous caller contacted the Austin PD.
“The caller refused to be identified but advised she was with Armstrong in January 2022,” the affidavit explains. “The caller advised Armstrong had just discovered Strickland was having a romantic relationship with Wilson even though Armstrong and Strickland were still dating. 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.”
Investigators searched Wilson’s phone and found a message she sent to Strickland during that period.
“Hey! Sooo I would like to talk to you at some point,” it read. “I had originally texted you on Friday but [it] appears my texts aren’t going through again. This weekend was strange for me and I just want to know what’s going on. If you just want to be friends (seems to be the case) then that’s cool, but I’d like to talk about it cause honestly my mind has been going [in] circles and I don’t know what to think.”
Strickland replied the next day, writing, “Hey Mo—I feel very shitty for putting you in a position where you don’t feel comfortable. Kaitlin came along the [sic] go to a meeting about the sprinter/spartan hotel project. In hindsight, this was not a good idea.”
Based on this exchange, Wilson “appeared under the impression she was still in a romantic relationship with Strickland even though he was currently dating Armstrong,” the affidavit states.
On May 17, ballistics examiners test fired the gun Strickland bought for Armstrong, which had been seized by police. The spent test cartridge casing was compared under a microscope to the spent casings found next to Wilson’s body.
“The potential that the same firearm was involved is significant,” the affidavit concludes.Strickland told police that he last heard from Armstrong on May 13. Her social media accounts have all been deleted.
Federal authorities are now asking anyone with information on Armstrongs’s whereabouts to contact the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-800-336-0102 or through the USMS Tips app.
In a statement released last week by Wilson’s family, they asked for privacy until at least the end of May.
“We hope everyone feels her passion and support as they chase their own dreams,” the statement said. “Her spirit will be there with you all, while training and on every race day.”
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