Man Charged in Death of Missing Actress After Allegedly Driving Her Car With Her Body Inside

Tricia McCauley planned to attend a friend's Christmas party that night, but never showed up.

A Maryland man allegedly seen driving the car of a missing Washington, D.C. woman who vanished on Christmas Day has been charged with her murder after police found her body in the vehicle, authorities said.

Adriane Duane Johnson-- also known as Duane Adrian Johnson-- has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tricia McCauley, police said Tuesday.

The 46-year-old yoga instructor and actress was last been seen alive at her home around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

She planned to attend a friend’s Christmas party that night, but never showed up. The food she had prepared for the celebration was found on her kitchen counter, loved ones said.

When McCauley also missed a flight out of Ronald Reagan National Airport on Monday morning, a search was launched.  

McCauley’s car was also missing, but had been spotted being driven by a man in at least three separate instances Monday, police said.

Read: Man Missing From Party Found Stabbed To Death Inside Shallow Grave

The car was spotted again Tuesday near a CVS store on the 2200 block of M Street NW, authorities said.

Police confronted Johnson, 29, and he allegedly handed over the keys to McCauley’s car, where her body was found.

"We know that this is going to be excruciatingly painful for the family and friends," Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said at a press conference. 

She had been strangled and suffered blunt force trauma, officials said.

Police reportedly believe Johnson drove McCauley’s car for as long as 24 hours before he was caught, stopping at several CVS stores along the way.

He was allegedly involved in a theft at one CVS on the 700 block of Fourth Street, where he is accused of also assaulting employees, authorities said.

He was on pre-trial release when McCauley was killed, having been arrested less than two weeks earlier after police say he stole four electronic toothbrushes from a CVS on the 3000 block of 14th Street NW, according to court documents viewed by NBC Washington.

Johnson had reportedly been ordered to stay away from the store and to get a GPS monitor and a mental health evaluation, but it was not immediately clear if he was issued the device or underwent the evaluation.

Read: Neighbors Stop Abduction of 7-Year-Old Girl by Chasing and Tackling Suspect

Police don't believe McCauley and Johnson knew each other, and it is unclear how Johnson allegedly encountered McCauley.

McCauley was an actress and member of the Screen Actors Guild, appearing in countless local plays and in film and television.

“Her creativity and wit were assets in any show she was in, and over the years she designed props, worked box-office, and pitched in to get shows on their feet however was needed,” the Washington Stage Guild wrote of McCauley, who joined in 1998. “We are heartbroken, for the loss of both her artistry and her friendship.”

She was also an herbalist, having gotten her Master's in herbology, a nutritionist and was lead teacher at Yoga District’s Bloomingdale location.

“Any one of us who had the pleasure of practicing with Tricia or even hearing her soothing voice could sense she was a nurturing person who cared deeply about the world. She was a compassionate teacher and healer in every sense,” Yoga District wrote on its Facebook page.

Her class on Tuesday was transformed into a vigil, as members of the community were welcomed to join and then participate in a candlelight procession to a nearby park, where another vigil was gathering.

“Tricia believed in love and believed in this community,” Yoga District wrote. “Let's do what we do best: love, serve and breathe together, and let's do it with Tricia in our hearts always.”

Watch: Woman Finds Grandson's Mummified Remains in Attic 2 Years After He went Missing