Tricia McCauley Update: Suspected killer claims she took her own life

Duane Adrian Johnson has a long rap sheet

The man in custody for the alleged murder of Tricia McCauley, a D.C. yoga instructor and actress, reportedly told police that McCauley took her own life in her car after the two had sexual intercourse.

Prosecutors insist that Duane Adrian Johnson, who made his first court appearance Wednesday, beat and strangled the victim, who disappeared on her way to an annual Christmas dinner with friends. She was found dead in her car on Tuesday, after a tip led police to apprehend Johnson in a CVS. He gave police the keys to McCauley’s car, where they discovered her body.

It is still unclear when or how Johnson and McCauley encountered each other, or how long she was alive while they were together. Johnson told police that McCauley had offered him a ride and suggested the sexual encounter. Before she died, Johnson claims she told him he could have her possessions.

After her death, Johnson told authorities he used her credit cards to make purchases at various retailers; he also picked up a prostitute. When police asked Johnson why he drove around with a dead body in the car, he said he thought McCauley might have been sleeping and could wake up.

By all accounts, McCauley, 46, did not appear to be a suicide risk. The avid herbalist and urban gardener was active in her community, and taught a regular yoga class in the city. She had prepared food to bring to the Christmas dinner and sent a message to friends at around 4:30 on Sunday that she was on her way.

Johnson had been arrested six times in 2016 for theft-related crimes. After his most recent arrest earlier in December, he was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device, but did not appear at a scheduled appointment to receive it. Family members told The Washington Post that Johnson had struggled with mental illness and that the courts were too lenient on him. Indeed, if he had been in custody or under surveillance, Tricia McCauley might still be alive.

Johnson is being held without bail. His next court appearance is January 13.

Read More: Tricia McCauley: D.C. actress and yoga Instructor mourned after senseless murder

[Feature Image: D.C. Metro Police Department]