Love triangle 'killer' Kaitlin Armstrong had panic attack & caused scene at retreat while battling demons, pal says | The Sun
FOUR years before she allegedly murdered her cyclist love rival in a jealous rage, Kaitlin Armstrong attended an intensive yoga teaching course in Indonesia where she appeared to be battling inner demons, according to a classmate.
The accused killer, 34, spent four weeks at a retreat in Canggu, Bali, in January 2018 learning how to become an instructor of Vinyasa yoga.
During an initiation ceremony for the 200-hour course, Armstrong tearfully told the circle of 25 other participants that she decided to run off to Bali because she wanted to "change something back home."
Specifically what that something was Armstrong never divulged, but one attendee exclusively told The US Sun her reasoning for taking part in the course was more "sensitive" and "sad" than most.
"You could tell that some people weren't really happy with their current situation back at home – and she was one of them," the source, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
"The way she was talking, you could tell she wanted to improve [herself].
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"You could feel there was a pain in there," the source added. "You could feel the pain in her eyes.
"But her soul … she had this sweet side. She didn't want to have this pain inside and she was seeking refuge or change or healing to try and eliminate [her] internal struggle."
CAUSING A SCENE
For the majority of the course, Kaitlin – while never short of a smile – was described as being quiet and reserved, speaking only when she needed to speak.
And though she was friendly with everyone in her class she didn't appear to forge any close or lasting friendships.
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"I think she was more solitary in that respect," the source said.
"She didn't stand out and she didn't want to; she just kind of kept to herself."
The source added that they never really "clicked" with Armstrong throughout the duration of the month they spent together.
Any chance of forming a bond stalled, they said, after an incident involving Armstrong during a group dinner one night early into the trip.
"We were all together a group of us, maybe seven of us, and we had been to dinner and gone back to one of the guys on the group's house that he had rented.
"She had some sort of minor panic attack because she was having a small allergic reaction to some of the food … she really overreacted."
After a small rash appeared on her chest, the typically quiet Armstrong began hyperventilating and shaking in what the source deemed to be a bout of unnecessary hysteria.
"[It] seemed like a bit of an overreaction to what was happening," they said.
"She was quite anxious … just kind of shaking and breathing heavily.
"It was just unnecessary to react like that … everyone knew what was happening.
"It was, you know, a whole scene."
Armstrong eventually calmed down "slowly" after being given an antihistamine and spoken to by the group in calm, soothing tones.
Considering themselves a "drama-free person", the source spent the remainder of the trip keeping Armstrong at arm's length.
"After that night she overreacted … I never really clicked with her that well compared to other people on the course.
"I never really went into deep conversations with her, I found it hard to … it was just because of the whole vibe I got from that night."
AN EMOTIONAL FAREWELL
In the weeks that followed, Armstrong maintained her position as one of the quietest members of the group but appeared a happier person than the one who had arrived in Canggu by the end of the course.
Just as they had at the beginning, the class gathered in a group circle to speak about their experiences over the last few weeks and what they had learned about themselves in the process.
When it was Kaitlin's turn to speak, the source says she expressed deep gratitude to her fellow classmates – again through tears.
"I remember her just being very, very, very grateful for all of us and for everything that she had experienced, and that it had touched her.
"She was just very appreciative that she couldn't even convey what she was trying to say, but she was just trying to thank us all for the experience.
"There were tears of sadness at the beginning and tears of joy and gratitude at the end."
The group parted ways after a final meal and kept in contact via a Whatsapp group, arranging tentative plans for a group reunion, though Kaitlin seldom contributed to the discourse.
After finishing up in Bali, Armstrong headed back to the US to resume her work as a realtor in Austin, Texas.
'PAIN AND SUFFERING'
Aside from seeing a few updates from time to time on Armstrong's Instagram, the source wouldn't hear of her again for another four years when she was announced as a suspect in the murder of Moriah "Mo" Wilson.
Wilson, a 25-year-old cycling star, was shot dead in Austin on May 11, shortly after going out for dinner with Armstrong's boyfriend, Colin Strickland.
Armstrong was questioned by police the day after the fatal shooting and later sold her car before fleeing to New York on May 14 – three days before a warrant was issued for her arrest.
She then went on the run for 43 days, boarding a United Airlines flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, using a "fraudulent passport" where she underwent plastic surgery to alter her appearance and hid out at a $50 per-night surfing and yoga hostel in Santa Teresa.
The US Sun's source said they were stunned to learn that the meek but sweet aspiring yoga instructor they'd met four years earlier was now a fully-fledged fugitive on the run for murder.
"It was a bit of a 'Woah' moment … just shock and confusion," they said, adding they had been alerted to Armstrong's fugitive status by another attendee of the Bali retreat.
"Everyone is essentially capable of killing someone … but I wasn’t thinking, you see someone at a yoga class and they’re a killer just because they’ve got a pain inside of them or a bit of sadness in their eyes … it didn’t cross my mind [that she’d ever allegedly do such a thing].
"You must be in a lot of pain and a lot of suffering … there must be something wrong inside of you to potentially do something like that and plan it as well."
Precisely when Armstrong and Strickland started dating is unclear, though the source said they don't remember Armstrong mentioning anything about a relationship back home during the Bali retreat.
Strickland told police he had been dating Armstrong "for approximately three years" by the time of the shooting but briefing ended their relationship for one or two weeks in October 2021, which is when he met Wilson, an affidavit shows.
Armstrong was apprehended in Costa Rica last week and has since been extradited back to the US where she was indicted on charges of first-degree murder.
She was arrested on June 29 at Don Jon's Lodge in Santa Teresa where she had been living and working as a yoga teacher under the alias "Arie."
A copy of the teaching schedule observed by The US Sun shows an instructor by the name of Arie teaching Vinyasa yoga at the hostel four times a week – the same type of yoga Armstrong had studied four years prior.
To evade detection, Armstrong had paid almost $7,000 for a nose job, dyed her distinctive long red hair a dark shade of brown, and cut it to shoulder length.
Investigators said the passport used by Armstrong to flee to Costa Rica was legitimate but "did not correspondent to her identity",constituting fraudulent use of the document.
It's believed the passport actually belongs to Armstrong's dark-haired sister Christine after two passports belonging to the younger sibling were found in the room of her hostel.
How she obtained those passports remains unclear, though The US Sun was the first to report that Christine Armstrong had applied for a New York Driver's license three days after Kaitlin Armstrong arrived in New York.
The revelation was made through documents provided by Utah-based private investigator Jason Jensen.
Armstrong's classmate from Bali said she is now completely unrecognizable from the person they had met four years ago – in more ways than one.
"I see it as a tragedy for everyone involved," they said.
"[Kaitlin] must have gone through some internal battles that we have no idea about, and accumulated along with a moment of madness, and jealousy, and rage and whatever [else].
"And then to go to freakin Costa Rica for a month and teach yoga like nothing happened … it's bonkers."
The source provided The US Sun with never-before-seen photos of Kaitlin during their four-week course.
Looking back on the images of her now is "heartbreaking", the source said.
"It is heartbreaking that someone is now in this position. Do I feel sorry for her? Yeah, I do.
"But at the same time, she shouldn't have done what she did.
"It's very s**ty what she did, taking someone's life and now she has to deal with the consequences."
LOVE TRIANGLE MURDER
Armstrong is currently in Travis County Jail, where she is being held on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree theft of service.
Her bail has been set at $3.5million.
Police believe Armstrong murdered Wilson in a jealous rage after becoming convinced she and Strickland were having an affair.
Wilson and Strickland had dated briefly last fall while he and Armstrong were on a break.
A tipster later told police that when Armstrong found out about Strickland's fling with Wilson she became became “furious,” “shaking with anger” and said she wanted to “kill” her.
In a statement released in May, Strickland confirmed he met Wilson through cycling and had a "brief" romantic relationship with her at the end of October 2021.
He said he reconciled with Armstrong at the start of December and had no intention of pursuing an "auxiliary relationship that would mislead anyone."
However, in a police affidavit, he admitted to changing Wilson's number on his phone to a fake name after Armstrong learned of the fling in January.
On the night she was killed, Strickland went out for dinner with Wilson at Pool Burger after an evening swim at Deep Eddy Pool.
He dropped Wilson off at 8.30pm local time and then texted Armstrong to say he had been dropping flowers off at another friend's house and his phone had died.
But police say Armstrong already knew of his and Wilson's whereabouts, having tracked them both through the cycling app Strava, which documents the routes runners and cyclists take.
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Armstrong's black Jeep Cherokee was then seen driving up to Wilson's home at 8.35pm.
Wilson was found dead on the bathroom floor by a friend an hour later.
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