Investigation intensifies in search of Texas suspect in murder of high-profile Vermont cyclist

Kaitlin Armstrong. Courtesy picture

The search for the suspect wanted in Texas for first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a world-class Vermont professional cyclist last month has led investigators to a New Jersey airport.

But investigators are still trying to track down where Kaitlin Armstrong, 34, went from there as the search intensifies. The U.S. Marshals Service this week updated survey to “major case status” and is now offering a reward of up to $5,000 leading to Armstrong’s arrest.

The US Marshals Service also disclosed for the first time that Armstrong, who had been on the run for more than three weeks, was dropped off at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18. It was a day after police in Austin, Texas, obtained an arrest warrant for the death of 25-year-old Anna Moriah Wilson.

Wilson, who is from East Burke, was in Texas on May 11 preparing for an upcoming cycling competition when she was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in an apartment in East Austin where she was staying with a friend.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla said Wednesday that a search of outbound flights at Newark airport on the day Armstrong was dropped off there revealed no reservations had been made under his name.

“We’re just trying to get information from that airport to see if she got through, to see if she arrived at a specific gate, or to see if she got out of that airport and got transport somewhere else. “, said Filla. .

“The main thing that will really give us that direction of travel so that we can focus our next steps in this investigation in that direction,” he said.

Filla said investigators are also working to determine whether Armstrong may have used a false name and fake ID to board a flight.

“Anything is possible,” he said.

Filla said he could not reveal how investigators knew Armstrong was dropped off at the airport, who dropped her off or what mode of transportation was involved.

He said designating major case status for the investigation brings more resources to the case, including investigators with special skills to track everything from financial transactions to media activity. social.

“Wherever she is, she will need money, she will have food and she will need to have shelter,” Filla said, adding that it can become harder every day to meet those needs without leaving a trace. . .

“She had to cut a lot of resources, including her family and associates, so she could continue to evade law enforcement,” the deputy U.S. marshal said of Armstrong.

Anna Moria Wilson. Photo via Dartmouth College Athletics

Wilson, known as “Mo”, had become a rising star in mountain and gravel cycling, turning to the sport after attending Dartmouth College and joining the school’s ski team.

Prior to attending Dartmouth, Wilson graduated from Burke Mountain Academy, an internationally renowned training ground for ski racers.

Armstrong, according to court documents, fled after being questioned by Austin police a day after the murder. During that interrogation, court documents showed Armstrong received evidence that his vehicle was seen driving near the apartment where Wilson was killed around the time authorities believe the shooting took place.

Austin police, in an affidavit in support of the first-degree murder charge against Armstrong, alleged that Armstrong was motivated by jealous rage.

Wilson, according to the filing, had a short relationship with another professional cyclist, Colin Strickland, last fall at a time when Strickland told police he had broken up with Armstrong. Strickland also reported that he and Armstrong have since gotten back together and are living in the same residence in Austin.

Wilson had been out swimming and dining with Strickland in the hours before his death, police said. Police believe Armstrong’s vehicle arrived at the scene of the murder minutes after Strickland dropped off Wilson.

Shells from test firing of a handgun that police had seized from Armstrong’s home were compared to those found near Wilson’s body in the apartment.

“The possibility of the same firearm being involved is significant,” police wrote in a court filing.

A “person close to Armstrong” said they had not seen or heard of Armstrong after May 13, according to investigators. His social media accounts have been inactive or closed since May 11, the day of the murder.

Investigators reported earlier this month that Armstrong was at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on May 14 around 12:30 p.m., boarding a flight to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston. Armstrong then boarded a connecting Southwest Airlines flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, investigators say.

When asked on Wednesday if he believed Armstrong was still in the country, Filla, the Deputy U.S. Marshal, replied: “Right now you still have to focus on the United States, because this is where we know she is for the last time.”

Nearly 800 people donated to a GoFundMe page which Wilson’s family started in his memory, with money raised going to community organizations that “help young people find confidence, strength and joy through biking, skiing and other activities that Moriah is passionate about. “.

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