Cops: Suspect in Murder of 'Step Up' Actress Found Bound With Seat Belt Claims She Killed Herself
Tricia McCauley was an actress and yoga teacher who disappeared on Christmas Day.
The suspect in the murder of a Washington, D.C. theater community member who was found dead and bound by seatbelts in her own car says the victim strangled herself, according to police.
Adrian Duane Johnson, 29, has been arrested in the death of 46-year-old Tricia McCauley, whose body was found concealed in her Scion iQ hatchback, which cops say Johnson was spotted driving following her Christmas Day disappearance.
According to an arrest affidavit, Johnson told cops that Johnson offered him a ride and then killed herself.
Cops say McCauley, who appeared as Jenna Dewan Tatum's stand-in in the film Step Up, was found strangled, and her body showed signs of blunt force trauma and sexual assault.
According to the affidavit, Johnson asked investigators, “if someone is suicidal and gives you all their stuff, is that illegal?”
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 at the time of McCauley's death, 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.
Johnson’s attorney initially asked the judge to release her client pending trial when a close friend of McCauley’s in the gallery shouted, "wait! No! He’s an animal!" according to the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, Johnson was ordered detained until a preliminary hearing on January 13.
Police don't believe McCauley and Johnson knew each other, and it is unclear how Johnson 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 the group in 1998. “We are heartbroken, for the loss of both her artistry and her friendship.”
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