AUSTIN, Texas — Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, the Austin woman suspected of killing rising cycling star Moriah Wilson in May, has been captured, the U.S. Marshals confirmed Thursday.
The Marshals said Armstrong was located at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The Marshals' Office of International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service worked with authorities in Costa Rica to locate and arrest Armstrong on June 29.
Armstrong, 34, will be deported and returned to the U.S.
Investigators had recently discovered that Armstrong, using a fraudulent passport, had boarded a flight from Newark International Airport at 5:09 p.m. EST on May 18, and arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 8:27 p.m. EST.
Authorities say she did change her appearance.
They also found she had been practicing yoga, a big hobby of hers, and signed up for classes using the same alias she used to book the flight to Costa Rica.
"We know that she registered at specific yoga studios based on communication that was brought back to us here in the United States. So we knew she had a pattern of life, she was trying to extend that career possibly to be a yoga instructor, to get the knowledge of it," said Deputy Brandon Filla with the U.S. Marshal Service.
"The Marshals Service elevated the Kaitlin Armstrong investigation to major case status early in this investigation, which likely played a key role in her capture after a 43-day run,” said Susan Pamerleau, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas. “This is an example of combining the resources of local, state, federal and international authorities to apprehend a violent fugitive, bring an end to that run and hopefully a sense of closure to the victim’s family.”
Wilson's family released the following statement to ABC News on Thursday:
"We’d like to thank the Austin Police Department, Detective Spitler, Jacqueline Berrelleza, the U.S. Marshalls and all other parties and individuals involved for their diligence in locating and apprehending Kaitlin Armstrong. We’re relieved to know this phase of uncertainty is now behind us, and we trust that justice will prevail. We’d like to ask for the media to respect our privacy at this time, as they have over the last six weeks."
Prior to her capture, the most recent update on Armstrong was that investigators had learned she sold her car to a CarMax dealership in South Austin on May 13 for $12,200. She was provided with a check from the dealership the day after she was questioned by police.
Armstrong flew out of the Austin airport on May 14. She was last known to have been dropped off at the Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18, the day after the Austin Police Department issued a homicide warrant for her arrest in connection with Wilson's murder in East Austin on May 11.
A source told investigators that Armstrong was provided transportation to the Newark airport on May 18. Investigators searched outbound flights from the airport and found no flight reservations under Kaitlin Armstrong.
The U.S. Marshals had elevated the case to a "major" case and the agency was offering up to $5,000 reward in addition to a $1,000 cash reward from the Capital Area Crime Stoppers for information leading to Armstrong's arrest. An anonymous donor was contributing up to $15,000 to bring the total combined reward of up to $21,000.
On May 25, investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. That warrant is in addition to the existing homicide warrant.
Austin police began the investigation into Wilson's death at around 10 p.m. on May 11, when they received a call from Wilson's roommate. The roommate told police she found Wilson at their home on Maple Avenue with a gunshot wound. EMS medics who arrived at the home tried to save Wilson's life, but she was pronounced dead that night.
Surveillance footage from a neighboring home showed an SUV stopping near the home Wilson was staying at. Officials later concluded the SUV belonged to Armstrong.
Armstrong was later arrested for an outstanding Class B warrant and was questioned in connection with Wilson's murder. She said she heard about Wilson's death but was not able to explain why her vehicle was in the area when confronted with the video evidence. An affidavit obtained by KVUE stated she did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her.
Armstrong soon requested to leave, so the interview ended. Police said she was released when first taken into custody because her birthday was wrong on the warrant and in the department's system, causing a legal discrepancy. The warrant stated her birthday was in April instead of in November, which is the correct date.
As the investigation continued, videos, evidence and corroborating statements from interviewees led officials to believe Armstrong killed Wilson. Click here for everything we know about this case.
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