Late Wednesday evening, May 11, star cyclist Moria Wilson was found shot in an apartment in Austin, Texas. Wilson traveled to Texas before the Gravel Locos race that weekend in Hico, where he was one of the favorites to win. The emergency services declared him dead on the spot. He was 25 years old.
Wilson’s death shocked the American cycling community for both the situation and the extent of the damage. Wilson was one of the brightest rising stars of the scene, a fast-growing pebble and mountain bike racer who spent his 2022 spring campaign dominating the field. He declared himself a runner-up in the 2021 Leadville 100 and in the top-10 in Unbound Gravel, then won this year’s Sea Otter Classic and Belgian Waffle Ride, the next in 25 minutes. By any metric, Wilson, who went through Moe, was one of the best off-road riders in North America. The horizons of his career were not yet visible, and he seemed to have the talent to win even bigger races. As he told VeloNews earlier this month, he quit his job at Specialized to concentrate on racing full time.
A day after Wilson was pronounced dead, a local outlet reported that Austin PD was investigating Wilson’s death as a homicide, and by Saturday, the police department had confirmed the report and said they had identified an interested person. Less than a week later, Austin PD issued an arrest warrant for Caitlin Armstrong, a 34-year-old cyclist, and the US Marshal announced that they would assist in the investigation.
Armstrong is a yoga instructor and cyclist who lives in Austin, and his connection to the investigation is that Wilson appears to have spent time with Armstrong’s colleague Colin Strickland just hours before his death (more on this in a second). Armstrong has been identified as Strickland’s “partner and financial guru” in the section on the website for his vintage trailer recovery business. Strickland is also a professional cyclist, and one of the best gravel riders on the continent, like Wilson. He started late in his professional racing career, but he has made a real name for himself in the last six years, dominating the 2016 Red Hook Crate series and winning the 2019 Dirty Kanza (now Unbound Gravel) in record time. Armstrong is not a professional, although he is an experienced rider and part of the Austin riding scene. His Strava has been removed, but he logged a ride on the morning of May 11 and was reportedly present at The Meteor, a fixture of the Austin Bike Riding community.
Affidavit in support of Armstrong’s arrest warrant, which was first reported Boston Globe, Wrote the timeline of the events of May 11 Armstrong went on a morning ride (his most recent ride is shown on Strickland’s Strava profile as May 10). Wilson, who arrived the day before, texted a friend he was with in Austin at about 5:30 a.m. that he would meet a friend while swimming. He used the access code on the front door of the apartment at 5:55, then dropped off again by Strickland at 8:36, with whom he could swim and have dinner. Shortly after Strickland Wilson was dropped, he texted Armstrong. “Hey! Are you out I went to drop some flowers [a friend] North at her son’s house and my phone is dead. If you don’t have any other food suggestions, you are going home, ”he wrote, according to the affidavit. Strickland told police he did not see Armstrong again until 9:21 p.m., when he returned to their home in 2012 in a black Jeep Cherokee with a mounted bike rack.
A minute after texting Armstrong about dropping the Strickland flowers, police say a black 2012 Jeep Cherokee with a mounted bike rack was pulled in front of Wilson’s apartment. At 9:56 a.m., police received a welfare check call, and at 10:10 a.m., Wilson was pronounced dead of three gunshot wounds. Police brought Armstrong for questioning on May 12, where they confronted him about seeing a jeep at the scene of the murder. We had a Class B warrant for his arrest for an unrelated incident, although police told him it had expired and he could leave at any time. According to the affidavit, he often nodded and expressed confusion when pressured about a particular subject. Strickland went to the police station that day to cooperate, and he told police that he and Armstrong had been dating for three years, although he and Wilson formed a romantic relationship when he and Armstrong separated in October 2021. They come back together soon after, and Strickland says Armstrong confronted Wilson. According to an anonymous tipster who called police May 14 and 15, Armstrong recently discovered that there was an ongoing relationship between Wilson and Strickland and told Tipstar that he wanted to kill Wilson.
During Strickland’s interview with police, he told police he bought two handguns for himself and Armstrong in December 2021 and January 2022, respectively. Police say a ballistic analysis of the shell casings found at the scene of the murder bears a “significant” resemblance. Strickland bought that gun last winter.
Strickland said in a statement: “There is no way to properly express the remorse and torture I feel for my closeness to this heinous crime.” Austin American-Statesman. “I’m sorry, and I just can’t understand this unprecedented situation.” Several of Strickland’s top profile sponsors dropped him last week.
For Armstrong, no one knows where he is. Authorities are searching for his jeep, though they have not found it, and the U.S. Marshal said Wednesday that he boarded a flight from Austin to Houston on May 14, where he was connected to New York’s Lagarde Airport. Austin PD was asked why he was released after his May 12 interview, and police admitted they made a significant clerical error. Detective Richard Spitler said: “Armstrong was wrongfully released from custody on a misdemeanor warrant because our report did not match his date of birth on the warrant in the management system.”
Members of the Austin cycling community will hold a memorial ride this weekend in Wilson’s memory.