DC Yoga Teacher's Accused Killer Told Police She Killed Herself

Tricia McCauley, 46, an actress and yoga teacher, was found dead in her car.

ByABC News
December 28, 2016, 4:30 PM

— -- The man accused of killing a Washington, D.C., yoga teacher told police that she was suicidal and killed herself, according to new documents filed in the case.

Adrian Duane Johnson was arraigned in D.C. Superior Court this afternoon. He is accused of killing Tricia McCauley, 46, who was reported missing over the Christmas holiday. McCauley was found strangled in her car early Tuesday morning.

Johnson, who was charged with first-degree murder, appeared at his arraignment in gray sweatpants and pink slippers. Johnson's defense said the government was rushing to judgment and requested a preliminary hearing and speedy trial. A judge ruled that Johnson be held until his next court appearance, citing a "probable case of murder." Johnson will next appear in court on Jan. 13. He did not enter a plea.

At one point during the arraignment when Johnson's attorney requested that his client be released pending his next court appearance, a man shouted from the back of the room: "What? He's an animal. He stole my friend from me." The man was escorted out by security.

Police said McCauley had texted friends at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Day that she was on her way to their holiday party. But she never arrived.

According to police, Johnson said that he met McCauley on or around Christmas Day and she offered him a ride. Johnson said that she offered to have sex with him, and that they had sex on a curb but he couldn't remember exactly where, according to charging documents. He told police that McCauley then became emotional and fatally hung herself while he was standing outside of the car, documents said. He then told police that he drove her car around D.C., used her credit card and picked up a prostitute, but also thought that McCauley was sleeping and might wake up, documents said. The prosecution did not respond to those allegations in court.

At 2:40 p.m. on Monday, a D.C. police officer reported seeing a car matching McCauley's in northeast D.C. being driven by a man. Hours later, police got a call from a tipster saying they had spotted McCauley's 2013 Toyota Scion iQ; police found the car parked in front of a CVS. Johnson was found inside the store and handcuffed, the documents said.

While Johnson repeatedly asked for a lawyer, he also told police he had sex with the owner of the car, according to documents. Johnson told police "that after he and the woman had sex, she was suicidal and hung herself in the car." Later the defendant spontaneously asked, "If someone is suicidal and gives you all their stuff is that illegal?" according to charging documents.

Johnson was asked if he knew where McCauley was, and he replied "she is in there," nodding toward the car, according to documents. Police found the car key in his pocket, and inside the car they found McCauley "under the rear folded back area of the vehicle on the vehicle's rear floor board wedged between the rear and the front seat." There were several items on top concealing her, the documents said.

The charging documents said that people associated with Johnson later arrived on scene and yelled at him, to which he responded, "she killed herself."

The medical examiner found blunt force trauma to McCauley's back, ligature marking on her neck and what appeared to be evidence of a possible violent sexual assault. The cause of death was ruled as "ligature strangulation" and blunt force trauma.

McCauley, a yoga instructor and actress, was a stand-in on the 2006 Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum movie "Step Up," according to People magazine.

Deborah Randall, McCauley's friend of nearly 25 years, told ABC News McCauley was "vibrant," "organized" and "always looking for the next challenge."

"It's hard not to be very angry. I was furious. Because it was so violent and unnecessary. And then it just keeps making me think of our conversations, about always looking for the positive," Randall said.

PHOTO: Tricia McCauley is seen here in this undated Facebook profile photo.
Tricia McCauley is seen here in this undated Facebook profile photo.

"She never held a grudge, she was never bitter toward anyone," she continued. "I just felt really torn because there's just a part of me that wants to rage. But I feel that would dishonor her so much. For me it was just about trying to stay in the light that she was constantly shining on all of us."

McCauley's friend Dean Hively told ABC News that "Tricia was a wonderful juggler of jobs and interests, teaching yoga, consulting as a nutritionist, making herbal remedies such as lip balm and lotions, and acting with the Washington Stage Guild."

She was an "avid biker" and a "very good friend," Hively added.

McCauley's brother told ABC Washington affiliate WJLA-TV she had prepared a dish for a friend's Christmas party but never arrived at the celebration. He said the dish was left on her kitchen counter.

ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman contributed to this report.