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Kaitlin Armstrong captured after falling for police trick, detective reveals

After just two hours of deliberation back in November, Kaitlin Armstrong was found guilty of the murder of a professional cyclist and was later sentenced to 90 years in prison.

Before she was put on trial, however, Ms Armstrong had spent weeks on the run, fleeing to Costa Rica, triggering an international manhunt that eventually led them to the surf resort of Santa Teresa after a source told them she could be hiding out there.

Around a month after Ms Armstrong had vanished, Deputy US Marshals Damien Fernandez and Emir Perez travelled to Costa Rica in June 2022, knowing that the hunt for the suspect would not be an easy task in the tourist area.

Ms Armstrong had gone to lengths to conceal her identity, such as cutting and dying her hair; she had a bandage on her nose and had even undergone plastic surgery.

However, Mr Fernandez and Mr Perez revealed to CBS show 48 Hours how using an advertisement for a yoga instructor ended her time on the run and eventually led to them luring the suspect out of hiding.

Kaitlin Armstrong was captured and is now serving 90 years in prison (US Marshals)
Kaitlin Armstrong was captured and is now serving 90 years in prison (US Marshals)

The investigators were told they were going to be in for a surprise early on “‘cause a lot of the women in Santa Teresa look just like Kaitlin – a lot of them,” Mr Fernandez recalled to 48 Hours.

They enlisted the help of a female operative to take local yoga classes, hoping to spot Ms Amstrong, who herself is a yoga enthusiast, but was unable to find her, they told the outlet.

In a last-minute idea, the investigators decided to post an advertisement on Facebook looking for a yoga instructor.

Mr Fernandez described their post to 48 Hours, saying, “Hey, we’re at this hostel; we’re looking for a yoga instructor as soon as possible. Please contact us at this number.”

Armstrong’s victim Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson was one of the top gravel racing cyclists in the world (Instagram/Mo Wilson)
Armstrong’s victim Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson was one of the top gravel racing cyclists in the world (Instagram/Mo Wilson)

Nearly a week went by with no response, and the investigators were set to return home. Then suddenly, Ms Armstrong replied to the posting, saying she was interested in the role.

They arranged to meet at a hostel, and Mr Perez told 48 Hours he initially scoped out who they thought was Ms Armstrong by going up to her, speaking only in Spanish.

As he got closer, he saw that she “had a bandage on her nose and possibly her lips were swollen”, but when he saw her eyes, he was sure it was her.

“The eyes are the exact same ones that I saw in the picture. And this is her 100 per cent,” he said.

What the now-convicted murderer thought would be a chance to delve into her love of yoga while in hiding turned out to be the pivotal moment that led to her being put behind bars.

Ms Armstrong was arrested, taken back to the US and held in jail.

Kaitlin Armstrong underwent plastic surgery and dyed and cut her hair (Travis County Jail)
Kaitlin Armstrong underwent plastic surgery and dyed and cut her hair (Travis County Jail)

She did manage to escape custody while at a medical appointment in October 2023, but only ran for a mile before she was caught once again.

Ms Armstrong was sentenced to 90 years in prison for fatally shooting professional cyclist Anna Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson on 11 May 2022 – Ms Armstrong was in a love triangle with Ms Wilson and Colin Strickland.

Ms Wilson had arranged to meet Mr Strickland, also a professional cyclist, whom she had an on-again, off-again relationship with when he and his then-girlfriend, Ms Armstrong, were on a hiatus, according to a police affidavit.

Later that night, Ms Wilson was pronounced dead after being found bleeding and unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds.

Before Ms Armstrong fled, she was briefly taken into custody, but detectives could not hold her after they learned the arrest warrant was not valid.