A US soldier has been arrested for allegedly shooting dead his newlywed wife and stashing her body in a storm drain near their home in Anchorage, Alaska. He then posted desperate messages on Facebook about her disappearance and actively engaged in assisting her mother in the search for her.
Zarrius Hildabrand, 21, has been accused of first-degree murder and evidence tampering following the alleged killing of his 21-year-old wife, Saria Hildabrand. She died from a single bullet to her left temple. Saria was an Alaska National Guard combat medic, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Police have launched an investigation into the gruesome murder.
Killed His Love
Hildabrand, who serves as a cannon crewmember with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, initially reported Saria missing on the evening of Monday, August 7, according to reports from KTUU.
Saria was then found dead on Thursday, having sustained a gunshot wound to the left temple. Her body was found in a small storm drain measuring 4 by 5 feet, located near the couple's apartment in Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News said, citing the police incident report.
"Updated information on my missing wife PLEASE SHARE AND REPOST!!!!!!" Hildabrand had written on Facebook on Wednesday night above a picture of his wife's "missing" poster — the day before her body was discovered and fewer than 48 hours before his arrest.
Saria's heartbroken mother, Meredith Barney, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday, "He walked around for hours with me searching for my daughter knowing that she was dead.
"He lied to me multiple times and tried to play it off like he was a concerned husband."
After reporting his wife missing on Monday, Hildabrand informed the police that he and Saria had returned home at approximately 2 am on Sunday, August 6, following a birthday celebration he had downtown with friends. This information was detailed in an incident report obtained by Law & Crime.
A neighbor later disclosed hearing a gunshot at approximately 2:45 am on that same Sunday, as reported by KTUU.
Hildabrand claimed that Saria, who worked with the Alaska National Guard, left between 9 am and 10 am on August 6 for her secondary job at a local restaurant. He claimed that due to their hangovers and ill feelings, they chose not to drive and she walked to work.
According to his statement, Saria left her phone behind in the apartment but took her purse and wallet.
Bluffing The Cops
The husband waited 36 hours before finally reaching out to the police after Saria was last seen. When police interviewed Hildabrand on Tuesday, they found two pistols on the kitchen table in his home. One of the pistols was fully loaded, while the other was missing just a single bullet.
The bed in the couple's home was covered with a mattress pad, and a package containing new sheets was found nearby. However, when the police requested to check the bed, the husband refused.
According to the provided document, he told them that there were "embarrassing" items related to sexual activities underneath the bed, which he did not want the police to see.
Police noted that on August 6, Hildabrand made several purchases, including a jar of marinara sauce, a set of sheets that matched the brand present in the apartment, a mattress cover, a 96-gallon garbage can, hydrogen peroxide, and an empty spray bottle.
The purpose behind Hildabrand's purchase of marinara sauce remains unclear.
According to the complaint, detectives executed a search warrant and discovered that the mattress was "saturated by human blood," which had permeated through the carpet.
They also found evidence of blood in the bathtub and on the floors, suggesting attempts to clean up. The garbage can Hildabrand had bought was located on a trail near their apartment.
Saria's body was found shortly after that. Her body was found stashed in the storm drain, with drone footage of the area playing a crucial role in its discovery during the investigation.
The couple, who appeared happy, had first met during basic training the previous summer and later got married in December 2022, as confirmed by Saria's mother.
Saria had relocated from Utah to Alaska approximately six months ago to join her newlywed husband.
A neighbor Maria Edwards expressed her shock at the unfolding events.
"It was Sunday, our fire alarms kept going off this week, and we had talked about the fire alarm system," she told KTUU of her and Hildabrand. "But he didn't show me any kind of inclination that maybe something was off. So that was a surprise."
Hildabrand was seen in court on Friday, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, as reported by the Anchorage Daily News.
During the court appearance, he was assigned a public defender and his bail was set at $500,000.
The young woman's family wrote in a Facebook statement Saturday, "Saria Barney was an amazing young woman.
"No one could [have] imagined that this would happen to her."
The GoFundMe that was launched to support the search operation is now being redirected toward covering the expenses for the funeral and repatriating Saria's remains to Utah, as communicated by the family.