Probe intensifies in search for Texas suspect in killing of top cyclist from Vermont | #College. | #Students

Kaitlin Armstrong. Courtesy photo

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

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 upgraded the investigation to “major case status” and is now offering a reward of up to $5,000 leading to Armstrong’s arrest.

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

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

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

“We’re just trying to get some information from that airport to see if she went through screening, to see if she got to a specific gate, or to see if she exited that airport and got transportation to go somewhere else,” Filla said.

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

Filla said investigators are also working to determine if Armstrong may have used a fake name and identification to get on a flight. 

“Anything’s possible,” he said. 

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

He said that the major case status designation for the investigation allows for more resources to be brought to the case, including investigators with special skills tracking anything from financial transactions to social media activity. 

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

“She has had to cut off a lot of resources, to include family and associates, so that she can continue to evade law enforcement,” the deputy U.S. marshal said of Armstrong.

Anna Moriah 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 known training ground for ski racers.  

Armstrong, according to court filings, fled after she was interviewed by Austin Police a day after the slaying. During that questioning, court documents showed, Armstrong was presented with evidence that her vehicle was spotted 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, the filing stated, had a short relationship with another professional cyclist, Colin Strickland, last fall during a time that Strickland told police he had broken up with Armstrong. Strickland also reported that he and Armstrong had since gotten back together and had been living in the same residence in Austin.

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

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

“The potential that the same firearm was involved is significant,” police wrote in a court filing.

A “person close to Armstrong” reported not seeing or hearing from Armstrong after May 13, according to investigators. Her social media accounts have been inactive or shut down since May 11, the day of the killing. 

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

Asked 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 that’s where we last know for her to be.” 

Nearly 800 people have donated to a GoFundMe page that Wilson’s family launched in her memory, with the money raised going to community organizations that “help youth find self-confidence, strength, and joy through biking, skiing, and other activities that Moriah was passionate about.”

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