On September 30th, 2019, an Anchorage woman was walking past a grocery store in Fairview when she noticed an SD card laying in the middle of the street. Curious, she pocketed the flash drive, which was ominously labeled “homicide at midtown Marriott” and took it home. One couldn’t be blamed for imagining the SD card to be some sort of prank, after all Halloween was on its way and no killer would be foolish enough to commit a crime and so boldly label the evidence with incriminating details, would they?
When the woman opened the folder she found 39 image files and 12 videos. The disturbing footage showed a female, who appeared to be around 25 – 30 years old and native Alaskan, being abused, raped and eventually murdered. The accompanying images showed more of the same, capturing the brutal details of the ordeal as well as what happened next.
Disturbed by the footage, the woman quickly handed it over to police. If it was a joke, it was a very convincing one and it was up investigators to work out whether they had a sick prank on their hands or evidence of a brutal murder.
Tragically, police determined that the footage was real, they commended the woman for turning it in to authorities and quickly got to work.
On October 2nd, just two days after the SD card was found, the body of a woman was discovered just off Rainbow Valley Road near Seward highway, just seventeen miles from the Marriott hotel. She was later identified as 30 year old Kathleen J. Henry and was determined to be the victim shown on the footage. Her killer was behind the camera at all times, but in one clip he could heard telling Kathleen to “just die” as she clawed at him and fought for her life. Some reports claim that he yelled “You need to fucking die, you fucking bitch”.
The killer was male with a South African accent. In the clips he goaded his victim and laughed at her as she tried to stop the attack, to no avail. She was naked and bloody with a black and swollen eye and a spray of bruises around her neck and body. Her killer choked her with his hands and stamped on her throat. Police determined that the murder happened sometime around the 4th – 6th of September.
The final images show her body rolled in a white blanket, likely the sheet from the hotel bed, the next in the series is her killer loading her onto a luggage trolley and pushing her body through the hotel car park. The last picture shows her face down in the back of a pickup truck before presumably being dumped at the side of the road.
Police poured over the footage and images for clues. They worked out that the crime scene was a room at “Towneplace Suites” Marriott and matched the carpet under the victim to the ones used in the rooms at the hotel.
Investigators couldn’t shake the sound of the killer’s voice. They had dealt with this man before and had been investigating him in connection with another case. Several days later on October 8th, a Mr. Brian Steven Smith was arrested at Ted Stevens airport and charged with first degree murder.
He was registered as staying at the Marriott at the time of the murder and cell phone records coupled with the timestamps on the images put him at the location of the murder. It was later discovered that he also owned the same pickup truck featured in the photographs.
Smith would go on to be charged with the murder of another woman, Veronica Abouchuk, just over two weeks later. Abouchcuk’s body was found dumped in an isolated area on the outskirts of the city in the summer of 2018 with a gunshot wound to the back of the skull. She was an active missing person and thought be living a vagrant lifestyle at the time of her murder and her skeletal remains were found in the spring of 2019. After his arrest he allegedly confessed to both murders on the 17th, revealing the exact location of where he dumped Abouchuk’s remains. He is currently being held on a $750,000 bond.
Smith is a South African National who had resided in Alaska for several years, where he lived with his wife. He was employed as an I.T technician and those close to him describe him as a calm and kind and are understandably shaken by the news of the violent murders.
His connection to the victims is at this time unclear, but the two murders, each a year apart, are not thought to be an indication that smith is a serial killer.