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Texas love triangle murder suspect Kaitlin Armstrong was trying to establish a new life in Costa Rica, dying and cutting her hair to disguise her identity, according to an arrest photo showing her dramatic transformation and to U.S. Marshals.
Armstrong, 34, was captured Wednesday in a remote beach town after 43 days on the run for the alleged murder of her romantic rival, Moriah “Mo” Wilson, who police say was having an affair with her boyfriend Colin Strickland.
The booking photo released by Ministerio de Seguridad Pública de Costa Rica shows Armstrong from behind wearing a pair of shorts and an orange T-shirt, and sporting her newly dyed brown locks, as she’s escorted to a holding cell.
Wilson, 25, who was one of the country’s top cyclists, was shot to death May 11 in Austin after she went out to dinner with fellow cycling pro Strickland – allegedly behind Armstrong’s back.
Armstrong was questioned and released on May 12 — then fled to New York and eventually to Costa Rica, using a passport that was not hers, where she settled into a hostel in Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, authorities said.
“We knew she was in Costa Rica where she thought it was a safe haven, where she was already trying to establish some type of lifestyle,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla told Good Morning America Friday in an interview.
“She shortened her hair length a little bit, about shoulder length. She dyed it dark brown. She had some type of bandage on her nose with some type of bruising fixated below her eyes.”
He continued, “She was trying to set up another type of lifestyle.” The type of yoga she was studying had some sort of connection to surfing, and it seemed as though she wanted to start teaching, officials said.
Armstrong was captured after local police in Costa Rica ran a background check on a name she gave them during a stop in town, and found no record of her entering the country, according to the DailyMail.
She then admitted her real name, which officials found in a database that revealed there was a high priority arrest warrant for her, according to the news site.
U.S. Marshals said they knew Armstrong was in Costa Rica after receiving dozens of tips.
She boarded a United Airlines flight May 18 from Newark Liberty International Airport to San José, the country’s capital, authorities said.
“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,” said U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas Susan Pamerleau in a statement announcing the arrest. “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 was visiting Texas ahead of a cycling competition and met up with Strickland for a swim and dinner at Pool Burger before returning to her friend’s apartment where she was staying. Moments after Wilson dropped her off, Armstrong’s SUV appeared on surveillance video outside, according to police.
Armstrong allegedly used a pistol that Strickland had bought for her earlier this year to blast Wilson, according o the arrest warrant.
The next day, she sold her black Jeep Grand Cherokee to a CarMax dealership around the corner from her house for $12,200 and flew to New York, the Marshals said.
A tipster called cops May 14 to report that Armstrong “became furious and was shaking with anger” after discovering Strickland was allegedly having an affair with Wilson.
Strickland claimed in an interview with The Sun that he had a fling with Wilson in October 2021 during a break in his relationship with Armstrong – his live-in girlfriend. But they had since reconciled, and his relationship with Wilson was purely platonic, he said.
Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.