Man Charged With Murder of Yoga Instructor Who Went Missing on Christmas Day

Tricia McCauley failed to show up to a Christmas dinner and then missed a flight out of town

A man has been charged in the murder of Tricia McCauley, the D.C. woman who went missing on Christmas Day

Adrian Duane Johnson, 29, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 46-year-old yoga instructor and actress, police said Tuesday evening. 

McCauley was found dead inside her car early Tuesday after a man spotted the vehicle and called 911. Officers confronted Johnson inside a CVS store, he handed over the keys to the car and the officers found McCauley's body inside, police said. 

Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Tuesday morning that investigators believe McCauley did not know the man who attacked her. 

McCauley died after she was strangled and suffered blunt force trauma, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined. 

Johnson was arrested less than two weeks earlier and was on pre-trial release when McCauley was killed. Court documents show he was charged with theft after police say he stole four electric toothbrushes from the CVS store on the 3000 block of 14th Street NW, near the Columbia Heights Metro station.

He was ordered to stay away from the store and to get a GPS monitor and a mental health evaluation, the documents show. It was not immediately clear whether he was issued the device or underwent the evaluation.

The family of a D.C. yoga instructor, who had been reported missing since Christmas Day, says her body has been found.

McCauley was an actress who was lead teacher at Yoga District's Bloomingdale location and also a licensed nutritionist.

Friends admired her kindness, Yoga District founder Jasmine Chehrazi said.

"Tricia was a very strong leader and at the same time a very gentle, compassionate, nurturing person," Chehrazi said. "She basically embodied the teachings of yoga, which start with ahimsa, which is nonviolence and acts of love."

The search for McCauley began the day after Christmas, after she failed to show up to dinner at a friend's house on Christmas Day and then missed a flight out of Ronald Reagan National Airport on Monday morning, her brother and friends said.

Police said McCauley was last seen at her home in Bloomingdale, on North Capitol Street NE at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

In the hours following her disappearance, police released a photo of a man they said may have been driving McCauley's car, a white, two-door Scion IQ with D.C. plates.

RAW VIDEO: DC Police Interim Chief Peter Newsham and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser hold a press conference after the death of yoga instructor Tricia McCauley.

A man who saw the photos police released online called police when he spotted McCauley's car. Jonathan Padget came face to face with the suspect near 21st and P streets NW, near Dupont Circle, he said. 

"I definitely was aware that this could be a dangerous situation," he said. 

Padget, who said he has friends who knew McCauley, said he spoke to the man and then called for help. The suspect's behavior seemed off, he said.

"He was moving around a lot, and he was smoking something," Padget said.

Police confronted the suspect several blocks to the southwest, inside the CVS store at 22nd and M streets NW. He gave officers the keys to McCauley's car, police said.  

When the officers searched the car, they found McCauley's body.

Police believe the suspect drove McCauley's car for as long as 24 hours before he was caught, stopping at several CVS stores.

View Suspect's Locations in Yoga Teacher's Death in a full screen map

About 9 a.m. Monday, before McCauley was found dead early Tuesday, police believe Johnson attacked an employee of the CVS store on the 700 block of 14th Street NW, blocks northeast of the White House. 

The employee told News4 she knew something was strange about the man the moment he walked in. He began filling a basket with soap and became confrontational when a manager asked if he needed help.

When the employee began to call 911 upon her manager's request, the man lunged at her and wrestled with her, trying to grab the phone out of her hand, she said. He left the store before police arrived. The employee declined to provide her name.

McCauley Suspect Car
Metropolitan Police Department
Police say this man may be driving McCauley's car (right).

McCauley's professional website includes a long list of acting credits, including with the Washington Stage Guild. She played Anna Karenina and acted in a Kennedy Center national tour, the website says. She also appeared in commercials and did voiceover work.

She graduated from American University in 1992 with a degree in theater, her LinkedIn page says.

McCauley would have taught a 5:15 p.m. yoga class Tuesday night. In its place, the studio held a vigil in her honor. It was set to be followed by a candlelit procession to the park at 3rd and Elm streets NW. 

Three days before McCauley vanished, she emailed Chehrazi, who trained her as a yoga instructor, to thank her. 

"She just put in big capital letters, 'thank you for the Yoga District community,'" Chehrazi said. "She didn't have to do that, but she did that because that's the type of person Tricia is." 

Johnson, who also is known as Duane Adrian Johnson, was arrested Monday and charged with assault and theft. After the autopsy, he was charged with murder. He is due in court Wednesday. 

Chehrazi said she believes McCauley would want her work as a yoga practitioner to live on.

"I know she would want us to keep breathing and keep working to find inner peace to help foster outer peace throughout the world," she said. 

Stay with News4 and for updates on this developing story.

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