Love triangle could be behind murder of pro cyclist in Texas
AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) - The manhunt continues for the suspected killer of a professional cyclist killed in Texas.
Fresh off a series of racing wins, elite cyclist Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson was set to compete in a 157-mile race in the Lone Star State on May 14. But days before the contest, the 25-year-old was shot and killed at a friend's home in Austin.
US Marshals are now on the hunt for a 34-year-old woman suspected of her murder, and police investigators are digging into Wilson's past relationship with the suspect's boyfriend.
Wilson's family is mourning the loss of their "beautiful daughter and sister," who excelled as a biker and skier. "Moriah was a talented, kind, and caring young woman. Her life was taken from her before she had the opportunity to achieve everything she dreamed of," the family said.
Here's what we know so far about Wilson, why police believe she may have been targeted and her short-lived success in the burgeoning sport of gravel racing.
A Star Skier Turned Cyclist From A Family Of Athletes
Wilson was a star skier in her younger years but recently became a high-level cyclist. She particularly excelled at "gravel racing," a relatively new category of cycling that sits in a hybrid middle ground between road cycling and mountain biking.
A profile in VeloNews published the day she died referred to her as "the winningest woman in the American off-road scene." Wilson had won nearly 10 races this year, including the Shasta Gravel Hugger and Rock Cobbler in California, according to the article. Last month, she won the 137-mile Belgian Waffle Ride by 25 minutes over the second-place finisher.
Wilson wrote about her racing experiences on her Instagram and in a Substack newsletter. In March, she reflected on her second place finish at The Mid South race and reflected briefly on her rise to the top of the field.
"This race was the first time in my career (I can call it a career at this point) that I truly felt like I had a target on my back," she wrote. "Was I nervous? Heck yeah! But more than anything I was excited."
At the time of her death, Wilson was just days from participating in the Gravel Locos bike race. The day after the race, an event organizer remembered her on Facebook as a "role model, a shy compassionate person, a spirited tactical racer and a competitor that genuinely cared about those competing against you."
Wilson had recently moved back to her home state of Vermont. While growing up, she was a consummate athlete, skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. Her father Eric Wilson skied for the US National Ski team, and her aunt Laura was a Nordic skier and competed at the Olympics, she told VeloNews.
She, too, picked up the sport competitively. "In alpine skiing, Moriah rose to the level of a nationally ranked junior skier, placing 3rd in the 2013 U.S. Junior National Championship Downhill event," her obituary states. While attending Dartmouth University, she was a member of the Alpine Ski Team, "fulfilling a lifelong dream," the obituary says.
Wilson also was the captain of her high school soccer team, according to her Dartmouth athletic profile.
After college, she moved away from skiing toward competitive biking.
"Growing up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, she spent many hours on the Kingdom Trails developing her skills and strength as a biker," the obituary states. "After graduating from Dartmouth, Moriah shifted gears and continued to pursue her athletic dreams as an elite bike racer."
Outside of sports, she enjoyed "cooking, writing, and traveling," it says, adding, "she especially loved Italy, Taco Tuesdays, maple creemees and playing Catan with her friends."
How The Shooting Unfolded
On May 11, Wilson was shot multiple times while staying at a friend's home in Austin ahead of the Gravel Locos race in Hico, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Travis County District Court.
Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, a 34-year-old Austin resident, is wanted for homicide in the killing and is now a fugitive, the US Marshals said.
Both women had recently been in romantic relationships with the same man -- professional cyclist Colin Strickland -- and messages and interviews with tipsters suggest jealousy could be a potential motive, according to the affidavit.
On the day of the killing, Wilson told her friend she was going for an afternoon swim with Strickland, the affidavit says -- a detail Strickland confirmed in an interview with police. They had dinner together afterward and he then dropped her off at her friend's home, Strickland said. He did not go inside.
Austin Police responded to the home later that evening, shortly before 10 p.m. CT, and found Wilson with multiple gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting did not appear to be "a random act," police said in a May 14 news release.
Police issued a homicide warrant on May 17 for Armstrong. The affidavit for her arrest points in part to video surveillance obtained by investigators that shows a vehicle similar to hers near the home shortly before Wilson's body was found.
In addition, investigators compared ballistics from the scene with those of bullets test-fired from a firearm Strickland had recently purchased for Armstrong, and the "potential that the same firearm was involved is significant," the document says.
Per the affidavit, Strickland told police he has not had contact with Armstrong since May 13.
Within 24 hours of Wilson's death, officers from the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force apprehended Armstrong in connection with an unrelated arrest warrant and spoke to her. However, Austin Police said they then learned Armstrong's arrest warrant was not valid and told her she was free to leave.
Armstrong requested to end the interview and left after detectives began confronting her about the security camera video that placed her car near the crime scene, the affidavit states.
Wilson Had Past Relationship With Suspect's Boyfriend
In a statement to the Austin American-Statesman, Strickland said he had a "brief romantic relationship" with Wilson from late October to early November 2021, while he was separated from Armstrong.
Strickland and Armstrong reconciled and resumed their relationship about a month later, he told the paper. His relationship with Wilson then became "platonic and professional" and he considered her a "close friend," he said.
"There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime," Strickland said, per the newspaper. "I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable situation."
The affidavit cites a tipster who alleged Armstrong came to believe Strickland and Wilson's romantic relationship was ongoing as of January 2022. Strickland admitted to trying to hide his communications with Wilson from Armstrong by changing Wilson's name in his phone and deleting texts, the affidavit says.
Armstrong had contacted Wilson several times and in one instance told her to "stay away" from Strickland, one of Wilson's friends told investigators, according to the affidavit.
Wilson was not in any romantic relationship at the time of her death, her family said in a statement.
"While we will not elaborate about the ongoing investigation, we do feel it's important to clarify that at the time of her death, those closest to her clearly understood, directly from Moriah, that she was not in a romantic relationship with anyone," the family said.
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