WASHINGTON (AP) — A Maryland man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Washington, D.C., actress and yoga teacher who went missing on Christmas.
Tricia McCauley, 46, who was found dead in her car Monday, was strangled by a ligature and suffered blunt force trauma, the Metropolitan Police Department said Tuesday in a news release.
Adrian Duane Johnson of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was charged Tuesday. He was arrested after McCauley's body was found in her car late Monday.
Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said police don't believe McCauley, of Washington, and Johnson knew each other, and they don't know how Johnson encountered McCauley.
The last known contact with McCauley was around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Newsham said. McCauley was expected at a large Christmas dinner that night, but host Bill Largess said Tuesday she hadn't arrived when they were ready to start. People texted and called, but got no response. McCauley had come to the dinner for the last 15 years, but they weren't too worried since she had slept through it once a few years ago. But the next morning they heard that she missed a flight to visit family on the West Coast.
"That's when we knew something was definitely wrong," said Largess, the Washington Stage Guild's artistic director.
Ann Norton, the guild's executive director, said she met police and the landlord at McCauley's apartment and saw evidence that McCauley had prepared the Brussels sprouts she planned to bring to dinner, but the dish was gone.
Police linked the suspect to her car because of a theft at a CVS on Monday, Newsham said. Late Monday, police sent out a critical missing person alert with images of McCauley, her distinctive, small, white Toyota Scion and the suspect.
Not long afterward, a police report states officers responded to a sighting of the car and found it. When they went inside a nearby CVS, they found the suspect, who gave them the key. Police found McCauley unresponsive in the car and she was pronounced dead early Tuesday, according to the police report.
As part of an Air Force family, McCauley moved around a lot growing up, Largess said. She moved to Washington to study at American University and stayed. She was a warm, kind person with friends from all kinds of backgrounds, he said.
Norton lamented the loss of "a theater daughter."
"She was an intelligent actress who was very committed to her art," Norton said. "She played ingénues well, with smarts and sass."
McCauley applied the same passionate commitment to her work as an herbalist and yoga teacher and her clients trusted her, she said.
Her first role with the Washington Stage Guild was Anna in "Anna Karenina" in 1997, Largess said. Her most recent role with the company came last year. It was in "On Approval," a British comedy from the 1920s, and she was a "just a riot," he said.
"She was a creative and open actress," Largess said. "She was a delight to watch on stage."
A vigil was being held Tuesday evening at a yoga studio where McCauley worked.