Kaitlin Armstrong: What to know about Santa Teresa, the Costa Rica beach where police captured Texas fugitive
AUSTIN, Texas - Kaitlin Armstrong, the yoga teacher turned Texas fugitive who authorities chased halfway across the U.S. and then to Costa Rica, was captured at a hostel on a reclusive ocean-side beach known as a refuge for surfers, yogis and backpackers Wednesday.
Santa Teresa Beach is on the Central American country’s Pacific Coast, located on the Nicoya Peninsula about a five-hour drive west of the country’s capital, San Jose.
According to Deputy Marshal Brandon Filla, agents of the Marshals’ Office of International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and Costa Rican authorities captured Armstrong at a beach hostel Wednesday. They announced her arrest Thursday morning.
Authorities said Costa Rica will deport Armstrong and return her to the United States, where she faces charges of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Her social media accounts indicate that she is an experienced global traveler, and on her LinkedIn she claims to have spent time in Bali, Indonesia, teaching yoga.
New York Magazine last summer described Santa Teresa as a "laid-back surf town" that is both natural and "unmanicured" with "nice accommodations and chill vibes." Beachfront hotels offer morning yoga and sunset surfing.
Tourism sites like GoVisitCostaRica tout the beach’s year-round surf spots and adjacent jungle.
The secluded town has a single main road running up the shoreline, which is "not entirely paved," according to Travel and Leisure. Four-wheel drive and ATVs are popular.
The U.S. Marshals Service announced Thursday that Armstrong fled to Costa Rica from Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18 with a "fraudulent passport," days after arriving at the nearby LaGuardia Airport on a flight from Texas. An Austin judge approved a murder warrant for her arrest on May 17, six days after she allegedly gunned down cycling pro Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson at a friend’s apartment in the city.
She flew from New Jersey to San Jose, according to authorities.
Before she fled, Marshals say she sold her Jeep Grand Cherokee at a CarMax dealership less than a mile from the Austin home she shared with boyfriend Colin Strickland – another pro cyclist who police alleged was romantically involved with the victim – for $12,200. The sum was several thousand dollars below wholesale market value at a time when similar vehicles are reselling for more than $30,000. She may have had additional cash on hand from a career of flipping houses, authorities had previously said.
No one answered the door Tuesday or Wednesday at the Austin home where Armstrong lived with Strickland, who dropped Wilson off on the night of her murder after they went out swimming and to dinner behind Armstrong's back, according to the murder warrant. Messages sent to his listed phone number were met with a request to "please f--- off" Thursday.
Authorities previously said they located the murder weapon at the home and that Strickland had purchased his girlfriend a handgun in December or January. An anonymous tipster told police that the fugitive suspect had previously voiced an intent to harm Wilson, a romantic rival who Strickland allegedly concealed in his phone under a different name.
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