(NEW YORK) — Kaitlin Armstrong, a fugitive wanted in the murder of professional cyclist Anna Moriah Wilson, has been captured in Costa Rica after a 43-day search, authorities announced Thursday.
Armstrong, 34, was arrested Wednesday at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, the U.S. Marshals Service said. She was deported and returned to the U.S., where she was booked on Tuesday in Travis County Jail by the Austin Police Department and charged with felony first-degree murder.
Austin police had issued a warrant on May 17 for the arrest of Armstrong on a first-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Wilson, 25, who they determined was romantically linked to Armstrong’s boyfriend, professional cyclist Colin Strickland.
Wilson was found bleeding and unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds at a friend’s home in Austin on May 11.
A car resembling Armstrong’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was captured on surveillance footage from a neighboring residence stopping outside the friend’s home the night of the shooting, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
When police interviewed Armstrong on May 12, she was “confronted with video evidence of her vehicle” but “she had no explanation as to why it was in the area and did not make any denials surrounding the statements,” the affidavit stated. After further questioning, Armstrong requested to leave, according to the affidavit.
The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force located Armstrong’s Jeep Grand Cherokee last week. Armstrong sold the vehicle on May 13 to a CarMax dealership in Austin for $12,200 before flying out of an Austin airport on May 14, authorities said. Investigators believe she then boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to Houston Hobby Airport, before connecting on a flight to New York LaGuardia Airport.
Investigators learned Armstrong was provided transportation to Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18 and, using a fraudulent passport, boarded a United Airlines flight that day to San Jose, Costa Rica, according to U.S. Marshals.
The U.S. Marshals had appealed to the public in their search for Armstrong, a realtor and yoga instructor, and had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to her arrest.
It is unclear if Armstrong has an attorney.
The Marshals Service fugitive case had been elevated the investigation to “major case status” early on, “which likely played a key role in her capture after a 43-day run,” Susan Pamerleau, the U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas, said in a statement. “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, a rising elite cyclist, was visiting Austin from San Francisco for a gravel bike race. She was found shot hours after meeting up with Strickland, police said. Austin police said at the time that the shooting did not appear to be random and they had a person of interest in the incident.
Strickland told police he hadn’t seen Armstrong since May 13, according to the affidavit. He said he has been cooperating fully with detectives in the investigation.
“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime,” Strickland said in a statement to ABC News Austin affiliate KVUE. “I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable tragedy.”
Wilson’s family expressed relief following news of Armstrong’s capture.
“We’re relieved to know this phase of uncertainty is now behind us, and we trust that justice will prevail,” the family said in a statement.
ABC News’ Lisa Sivertsen contributed to this report.
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