A fugitive yoga teacher who is facing first-degree murder charges for allegedly gunning down her love rival and then fleeing to Costa Rica on a fraudulent passport evaded cops for six weeks by going town-to-town despite officials sending two US Marshals to the country to track her down.
Kailtin Armstrong, 34, spent 43 days on the run after allegedly killing her love rival, pro-cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson, who had spent an evening with her boyfriend, Colin Strickland, in Austin in May.
At a press conference on Thursday, US Marshals said they caught Armstrong through ‘good old-fashioned police work’ by going door-to-door at hostels in San Jose, Jaco Beach and Saint Teresa – for six weeks. She had used three aliases to try to conceal her identity.
Armstrong’s undoing began after she caught a bus from San Jose to Jaco Beach, and then frequented several yoga studios under several aliases, including Beth Martin, Liz Martin and Ari Martin. Locals identified her after being shown a photograph.
She then fled to Saint Teresa where she stayed at Don Jon’s Lodge – a $50-a-night hostel where she taught part-time yoga under the Ari Martin alias. Local officers arrested her at the hostel where they discovered she had altered her appearance, including cutting her hair and dyeing it brown, and she had a bandage on her nose. Local officers also found a $6,350 receipt for cosmetic surgery in her belongings.
She was arrested after failing to prove her identity, and only confessed who she was on a six-hour journey back to San Jose.
Kaitlin Armstrong (left, before the alleged attack and right, after she was caught), 34, was transferred from Harris County in Houston to Travis County Jail in Austin on Tuesday afternoon
Armstrong arrived at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on Sunday looking very different to the picture of her before her disappearance
Armstrong will be transferred to Austin, where she faces murder charges for allegedly killing cyclist Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson, 25, (pictured) during a feud over Armstrong’s on-and-off boyfriend, Colin Strickland
After being extradited, Armstrong has been booked in Travis County Jail in Austin and was charged with first degree murder as well as theft of service between $100 and $750.
Photographs show her with a visibly altered look, having had a $6,350 in cosmetic surgery as well as cutting and dying her hair brown.
She has been charged with felony first-degree murder and’theft of service.
Armstrong has retained two lawyers in her defense so far, Naomi Howard and Richard Lyn Cofer, II. DailyMail.com approached both for comment on the charges.
Before being arrested, a witness said he saw her with bandages on her nose before her June 29 arrest at a $50-a-night ‘treehouse hostel’ in Santa Teresa Beach.
Zachary Paulsen claimed Armstrong had been asking for ways to cut back on costs before she was caught out by cops during a routine check.
‘She was just asking about how to get around cheaper, and then the police came,’ Paulsen told Inside Edition.
Armstrong shown in Costa Rica before she was deported to the US
ABC 13 video showed Armstrong in handcuffs and hiding her face behind her formerly red hair, which she cut and dyed brown to allegedly disguise herself in the Central American country
Armstrong was arrested at a $50-a-night ‘treehouse hostel’ in Santa Teresa Beach on Wednesday after having been sought after by U.S. authorities since May 11. She is pictured on the right during her arrest
Timeline of Kaitlin Armstrong’s movements since the murder of her boyfriend’s lover
May 11: Cyclist Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson, 25, is found dead in an apartment in Austin, Texas, shortly after going swimming with Armstrong’s boyfriend, Colin Strickland.
May 13: Armstrong sells her Jeep Grand Cherokee, seen in surveillance footage outside the apartment where Wilson had been staying, and gets a check on May 15 for $12,200.
May 14: An anonymous police tipster tells investigators that Armstrong flew into a rage after discovering Strickland’s romance with Wilson.
Armstrong is questioned by cops on an old warrant but had to be released when police realized it had expired.
During the police interview Armstrong admitted it ‘doesn’t look good’ when cops pointed out she had been near the apartment at the time of the murder.
An anonymous caller tells Austin police that Armstrong had recently obtained a handgun.
Armstrong is released and goes on the run from cops by hopping on an Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Houston Hobby and then getting on a connecting Southwest flight to LaGuardia in New York.
May 17: The firearm located at Strickland’s residence was ‘test fired’ and police have determined it had ‘significant potential’ to be the gun used in the crime
May 18: Armstrong is last seen at Newark Liberty International Airport, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Camp Haven in Livingston Manor where she is said to have been spotted about a month ago.
June 30: Armstrong is arrested at a hotel in Costa Rica after a 43-day manhunt.
July 3: Armstrong is extradited to the U.S.
Armstrong was seized by Costa Rican officers after they could not find her fake name in their database.
Paulsen alleged the fugitive left behind two American passports in a locker where she had stored her things.
One of the documents bore her name and the other seemingly belonged to her lookalike sister, Christine Armstrong.
Photographs of the documents show one passport bearing the name Kaitlin Marie Armstrong and featuring the yoga instructor’s personal information and picture.
The other passport seemingly belonged to a 31-year-old brunette named Christine Elizabeth Armstrong, believed to be Armstrong’s younger sister.
Authorities confirmed to the news outlet Armstrong had ‘cropped her hair about shoulder length’ and ‘dyed it dark brown.’
This was likely an attempt to better resemble Christine.
Paulsen also claimed to have found a $6,350 receipt for cosmetic surgery under ‘another name’ among her belongings.
He alleged Armstrong had been walking around the hostel with a ‘bandage on her nose and blood in her nostrils.’
The receipt doesn’t indicate what services were provided, but Paulsen claims Armstrong had bandaged her nose.
Meanwhile ABC 13 video showed Armstrong in handcuffs and hiding her face behind her formerly ginger hair.
Brandon Filla, deputy U.S. Marshal for Austin, Texas, said she was captured ‘at a good time’ before she could further alter her appearance.
Filla told the ‘TODAY Show’ that Armstrong had made the changes ‘to throw off law enforcement officials,’ and indicated she may’ve attempted to get tattoos to make her more unidentifiable.
At Don Jon’s Lodge in the small town of Santa Teresa, which is home to only 3,000 people. fellow guests described her as a ‘strange’ loner who would ‘keep to herself,’ despite sleeping in an eight-bunkbed dorm.
A source revealed to DailyMail.com on Friday that Armstrong first arrived at the Don Jon’s Lodge on June 8.
Staff had repeatedly turned down her requests to work as a yoga instructor, but eventually relented and she started helping with the classes when the normal teacher was off. She was also working shifts on the front desk in reception.
The source said: ‘When the [regular] yoga girl couldn’t make it, [Armstrong] carried out the class instead of the other one. She didn’t always work.’
They continued: ‘She didn’t talk to anyone. She didn’t have to work in the morning and slept late. When she got up, she drank a lot of coffee. And she sat in some chairs, apart from the others.’
The 34-year-old would sit on chairs apart from the other guests who even thought she had left because they never saw her get home from her shifts at the resort (pictured, a file photo of the treehouses on the resort’s website)
Kaitlin Armstrong was described as a ‘strange’ loner who would ‘keep to herself’ while sleeping in an eight-bunkbed dorm (pictured, her bed) at Don Jon’s Lodge in Santa Teresa before she was arrested yesterday after six weeks on the run
Santa Teresa: Remote village where fugitive yoga teacher was finally caught
Santa Teresa is a remote village on the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica, 93 miles from the capital city of San Jose. The population is around 3,099 inhabitants with another 500 throughout the the year due to tourism.
Armstrong was found in Santa Teresa Beach, a remote Costa Rican town that has become popular for tourists in recent years
Previously a quaint fishing community, the town has been transforming into a tourism hotspot, boasting beautiful beaches, yoga retreats, spas and surfing. There are currently 44 hotels, 59 tourist rental houses and 49 restaurants in the area.
The town holds both luxury resorts and affordable hostels with prices ranging from $50 to $550 a night, making it attractive to both backpackers and celebrities alike.
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen are often spotted in the area, and have been going to Costa Rica together since 2007
There is also a bustling nightlife due to the bars and restaurants that line the beaches. The getaway was popularized in part by Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, who are frequently spotted in the area with their kids. Bündchen has said they have been visiting since 2007.
Armstrong had led cops on a mammoth six-week chase across multiple countries and U.S. states, including Texas, New York and New Jersey before she was arrested.
Earlier this week, DailyMail.com exclusively revealed footage of the alleged killer being marched into a police station in Costa Rica with a dramatically changed appearance.
Susan Pamerlea, the U.S. <arshal for the Western District of Texas said Thursday: ‘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.’
Armstrong stands accused of the May 11 shooting of Wilson, a cyclist whom she thought was having a relationship with her boyfriend, Colin Strickland.
The yoga instructor was linked to Wilson’s death after authorities found her ‘bleeding and unconscious’ at her friend’s apartment in Austin. She had sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Police performed CPR on Wilson before pronouncing her dead at the scene. Wilson, a Vermont native and ‘world-class’ cyclist, was staying in Austin for a race.
Armstrong’s car was seen in the area around the time of the shooting, leading authorities to believe she had killed Wilson out of jealousy.
They later found out that earlier on May 11, Wilson had gone to dinner with Armstrong’s on-off boyfriend Strickland, who told police the two of them had been swimming at Deep Eddy Pool before getting burgers at Pool Burger.
Strickland said he picked her up from the apartment of her friend Caitlin Cash on his BMW motorbike at 5: 45 p.m. and dropped her off again at 8:36 p.m. – stopping shortly after to text Armstrong to tell her he had been dropping off flowers to another friend and that his phone had run out of battery.
But unknown to Strickland, Armstrong had allegedly been tracking both he and Wilson using cycling app Strava, which shows the routes runners and cyclists take.
A neighbor, who asked not to be named, previously told DailyMail.com her security camera caught Armstrong’s black Jeep Cherokee driving up to the property – above a garage at the back of a larger home – at 8:35 p.m.
She also told DailyMail.com that Armstrong had been caught on camera the previous day, riding a bike in the same spot.
During Wilson and Strickland’s secret meet-up, Armstrong’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was spotted driving outside the home of Wilson’s friend, where the cyclist was staying
Armstrong was questioned by Austin police officers on May 14, after they discovered the yoga instructor had an open misdemeanor warrant on a theft of services charge.
Cops used the opportunity to briefly question her about Wilson’s death several days earlier – after they received an anonymous tip that Armstrong flew into a rage when she discovered that Strickland had previously been romantically involved with Wilson.
During the interview, cops showed Armstrong video surveillance of her SUV apparently coming to a stop outside the apartment, where Wilson was found dead on May 11. The footage was time-stamped just one minute after Wilson, 25, entered the building following a swim and dinner with Strickland.
Armstrong also admitted it ‘doesn’t look good,’ and a probable cause document for her arrest says she ‘had no explanation as to why it was in the area, and did not make any denials surrounding the statements presented to her.’
On May 13, five days before she fled the country, it was discovered that Armstrong had sold her black Jeep Grand Cherokee to a car dealership in Austin for $12,2000.
A police tipster, who did not want to be identified, told investigators Armstrong flew into a rage on discovering cyclist Strickland’s romance with fellow cyclist Wilson in January 2022.