Last week, the American cycling scene was shaken and heartbroken by the news that off-road cycling star Moriah “Mo” Wilson had been found dead with several bullet wounds in a friend’s home in Austin, Texas.
The 25-year-old had travelled to Austin to compete in the Gravel Locos, a 150-mile gravel race that she was favored to win.
Wilson won the Belgian Waffle Ride the week prior, the latest victory on her fast-growing palmarés. She was among the most talented and winningest up-and-coming off-road racers in America, and had quit her Specialized job just months prior to pursue bike racing full time.
On Wednesday, May 11, the Austin Police Department responded to a late call of a young woman found dead with gunshot wounds inside a friend’s home. VeloNews was the first to identify the victim as Wilson.
The incident was categorized as a “suspicious death” yet the identity and the motive of the shooter remained unknown.
Today, a shocking update came in the form of an arrest warrant. The police names fellow cyclist and partner of Red Bull athlete Colin Strickland, Kaitlin Armstrong, as being wanted for first-degree murder felony charges.
Details of what is alleged to have occurred between the cyclists and the night of the murder have emerged this week through various sources, including an affidavit, first obtained by The Boston Globe, and a statement made by Colin Strickland to a local reporter and released earlier today.
According to the affidavit made by Wilson’s friend with whom she was staying, Wilson had gone swimming with Strickland late that Wednesday afternoon.
The apartment’s security system indicates that Wilson left just before 6 p.m. A few hours later, at 8:36 p.m., Wilson accessed the apartment using a code provided only for her. Strickland reported to to police that he and Wilson had gone out to dinner and he gave Wilson a ride back on is motorcycle, dropping her off around 8:30. Minutes later, a neighbor’s security camera captured an SUV pulling up to the apartment. Police are said to have matched the SUV to a similar one registered to Strickland and Armstrong’s residence.
When Wilson’s friend returned home around 10 p.m. that evening, she found her unresponsive and covered in blood on the bathroom floor. Wilson was pronounced dead after the arrival of the police.
The affidavit states that Wilson was shot several times with a 9mm handgun. Strickland later told police that he and Armstrong both own 9mm guns, but that he had never shot it. Strickland has not been charged with any offense, and has since made his own statement to the local media.
“There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime. I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable tragedy,” he states.
Strickland revealed that he and Wilson had a brief romantic relationship last fall, when he and Armstrong, his girlfriend of three years, had briefly broken up. But after that weeklong romance, Wilson and Strickland remained a strictly “platonic and professional” relationship, and Strickland reconciled with Armstrong, who is both his romantic and business partner.
“Moriah and I were both leaders in this lonely, niche sport of cycling, and I admired her greatly and considered her a close friend. I am deeply grieving her loss,” Strickland media statement reads.
Conflicting stories have surfaced, however, alleging that Armstrong discovered about Wilson and Strickland's ongoing involvement in January 2022, and that Armstrong had started threatening Wilson.
Wilson also appeared to have been under the impression that there was an ongoing romantic involvement between her and Strickland, despite him also dating and continuing to live with, Armstrong.
As of Friday, May 20, the whereabouts of Armstrong are unknown and she's believed to be a fugitive. The U.S. Marshalls sent out a press release urging anyone with information about Armstrong's whereabouts to contact 1-800-336-0102.
The American cycling community has been rocked hard by this news, and there has been an outpouring of sadness, mourning and celebration of Wilson's life on social media ever since the news broke.
With the encouragement of Wilson's family, the Gravel Locos race was held as planned last weekend. Wilson was honored with a tearful speech and a moment of silence at the start. The peloton then rode as one to a nearby swimming hole before actually starting the race.
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Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.
Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist.
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