The yoga teacher accused of murdering a star cyclist over a dramatic love triangle went on the run after police briefly detained her and then let her go because of an invalid warrant.
A huge manhunt is now underway to track down Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Anna Moriah Wilson, after the 25-year-old was found dead in a friend’s house in Texas back on 11 May.
Ms Armstrong, a 34-year-old yoga teacher and amateur cyclist, is accused of shooting her love rival who appears to have been having an affair with her boyfriend Colin Strickland.
Ms Wilson, a rising star in professional cycling, and Mr Strickland, a champion gravel racer, briefly dated last October when he split from Ms Armstrong before reuniting one or two weeks later.
Text messages and an account from Ms Wilson’s friend, revealed in court documents, indicate that the lovers may have rekindled their romance sometime before Ms Wilson’s murder.
Ms Armstrong had recently discovered their affair and had spoken of wanting to get a gun and “kill” her love rival, an anonymous source told police.
Mr Strickland meanwhile has insisted that their relationship was “platonic” at the time of the victim’s death.
Mr Strickland has admitted to police that he lied to his live-in girlfriend of three years about his whereabouts the night Ms Wilson was murdered, telling her he had taken flowers to a friend’s house when he was actually swimming with the victim.
Moments after he dropped Ms Wilson back off at her friend’s house a car believed to be Ms Armstrong’s was captured on surveillance footage approaching the property, according to an affidavit.
The murder, which has shocked the cycling community, unfolded on the night of 11 May when Ms Wilson was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at her friend’s home in Austin.
Ms Wilson had flown from San Francisco to Austin one day earlier and was staying with the friend as she planned to take part in a 150-mile gravel bike race.
Police were called to the home at around 10pm that night when the friend returned to the house to find the front door unlocked.
The friend went inside and found Ms Wilson lying on the bathroom floor covered in blood from multiple gunshot wounds.
Officers arrived on the scene as the friend was performing CPR.
The victim was pronounced dead minutes later.
On Thursday - nine days later - Ms Armstrong was charged with her murder and, as of Sunday, she remains a fugitive on the run with her current whereabouts unknown.
With US Marshals now involved in a huge manhunt to track down the alleged killer, it has emerged that investigators let her go hours after the brutal murder.
An arrest warrant revealed that Ms Armstrong was taken into custody one day after the murder.
At the time, investigators had found surveillance footage of a car matching the description of Ms Armstrong’s at outside the crime scene around the time of the murder and had also learned from Mr Strickland that she had been jealous of his relationship with the victim.
After learning that Ms Armstrong had a warrant out for her arrest on an unrelated charge, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force detained her and took her to the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit office for an interview.
During the 12 May interview, Ms Armstrong was asked if she had heard what had happened.
According to the arrest warrant, she told detectives her boyfriend had come home and told her that “one of the woman sic] in the cycling community had passed away”.
Police said that she was “was very still and did not move at all” when answering.
When she was confronted about her boyfriend “talking to this girl” and told that her name had cropped up in the investigation, Ms Armstrong “continued to stay quiet and completely still”, the warrant states.
She also had “no explanation” when she was confronted with surveillance footage of her car close to the crime scene and “did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her,” the warrant says.
When detectives suggested “maybe you were upset and just in the area,” she allegedly nodded in agreement.
Police said that she became angry when asked about Mr Strickland meeting with Ms Wilson.
“I didn’t have any idea that he saw or even went out with this girl… as of recently,” she allegedly told investigators.
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,” according to the warrant.
However, during the interview, detectives learned that the arrest warrant was not valid and so she was free to leave.
After relaying her right to leave, Ms Armstrong got up and left.
She has not been seen since.
Two days after the police interview, police received a tip from an anonymous caller who said that Ms Armstrong had discovered Mr Strickland and Ms Wilson were having an affair in January.
The woman told investigators that the 34-year-old “became furious and was shaking in anger” and told her that she “was so angry Armstrong, wanted to kill Wilson”, according to the warrant.
Ms Armstrong then allegedly told the woman that she had either recently bought a firearm or was going to.
Police said Mr Strickland bought two firearms for him and his girlfriend around that time.
One of the guns matches the ballistics at the scene of the murder, according to the police.
A text message on the victim’s phone from January – the month Ms Armstrong suspected an affair – suggests her relationship with Mr Strickland had become romantic again.
“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.”
Mr Strickland replied to the message the following 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.”
Investigators said that the suspect believed they were in a relationship based on this exchange.
A friend of Ms Wilson’s also told police that Mr Strickland and Ms Wilson were in an “on again, off again” relationship.
The friend said that Ms Armstrong began contacting Ms Wilson and followed her on Instagram.
In the last call, she allegedly warned Ms Wilson to stay away from Mr Strickland.
The victim ended up blocking Ms Armstrong’s number, the friend told police.
Mr Strickland told investigators that he had gone swimming with Ms Wilson the night of her death before dropping her off on his motorbike at around 8.30pm.
At 8.36pm, he sent a text to his girlfriend claiming he had been visiting a friend and his phone died.
“Hey! Are you out? 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,” he said in the text, according to the affidavit.
Mr Strickland told police he returned home at around 8.43pm and Ms Armstrong returned at around 9.30pm.
The friend who Ms Wilson was staying with also confirmed to police that the victim had spoken of plans to go swimming with Mr Strickland that night.
The friend said she receives notifications on her phone every time the door to her home is unlocked via the electronic keypad.
She told police she receievd two alerts that night – at 5.55pm when Ms Wilson left to go swimming and at 8.36pm when she returned.
Only she and Ms Wilson had the code, she told police.
Surveillance footage, described in the affidavit, shows an SUV with a large bicycle pulling up in front of the home one minute later at 8.37pm.
Ms Armstrong drives a vehicle matching that description and Mr Strickland said she was driving it when she returned to the couple’s home the night of the murder, police said.
During his police interview, Mr Strickland allegedly described a pattern of jealousy from Ms Armstrong about his relationship with Ms Wilson.
He said that he had to change Ms Wilson’s name in his phone and delete text messages from her so that she didn’t know who he was speaking to.
During his police interview, Mr Strickland allegedly “spoke very highly of Wilson and her accomplishments” in the cycling world while he referred to Ms Armstrong “as a ‘participant’ at bicycle races while he is a ‘racer’” and said he didn’t like to ride with her because she “holds him back”.
Mr Strickland released a statement saying that he and the victim had not been in a romantic relationship since their brief time dating in October.
“After our brief relationship in October 2021, we were not in a romantic relationship, only a platonic and professional one,” he said.
He also expressed his “regret” about his “proximity” to the 25-year-old cyclist’s murder.
“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime,” he said.
“I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable situation.”
Ms Wilson had been expected to win the race on 14 May in Hico that she had travelled to Texas for.
She was considered a rising star of women’s cycling and recently won the 222km Belgian Waffle Ride California.