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Man kills newly-wed wife from Utah, hides her body in drainpipe in Alaska

Aug 14, 2023, 5:07 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm

Saria Barney Hildebrand from a Facebook page listing her as missing. (Facebook)


ANCHORAGE, AK — A man is in custody, accused of killing his 21-year-old wife from Utah, and hiding her body in a drainpipe hours after celebrating his birthday.

Saria Barney Hildebrand, a Utah native went missing Aug. 6. Saria Hildebrand’s husband, 21-year-old Zarrius Hildebrand, has been taken into custody facing charges of tampering with physical evidence, first-degree murder, and second-degree murder.

Case of Utah woman missing in Alaska being investigated as homicide, husband in custody

Saria Hildebrand and Zarrius Hildebrand moved to Alaska in January after their wedding in December 2022. Saria Hildebrand was a member of the Alaska National Guard and Zarrius Hildebrand is active military.

According to court documents, Zarrius Hildebrand called and reported his wife missing on Aug. 7. He explained to police that he and his wife were celebrating his birthday at one of the downtown bars with friends. He said the next morning they were both hungover, so Saria Hildebrand decided to walk to work, leaving at about 10 a.m. He said she did not take her phone, but did bring her purse.

Zarrius Hildebrand said he exhausted all attempts, including calling hospitals and jails to find Saria Hildebrand, and contacted police.

As police investigated, they contacted staff of the victim’s work, a restaurant called Bread and Brew. One of her coworkers told police she received a text Saria Hildebrand phone at approximately 10:45 a.m. and said she wasn’t coming in to work on Sunday. The coworker responded to the text, stating she needed to call the owner about the absence. A text from Saria Hildebrand’s phone responded stating she didn’t have the owner’s number. The coworker provided the number, but police verified with the owner that Saria Hildebrand never reached out to him.

The coworker and owner told police they found this text exchange odd as they both knew Saria Hildebrand had the number for the owner. Police found the number for the owner saved in Saria Hildebrand’s phone but instead of being saved under his name, it was saved as “CEO of Bread and Brew.”

When confronted about the text Saria Hildebrand’s coworker received at 10:45 a.m. after she had left the house without her phone, he “denied sending the text” and “couldn’t explain how that happened,” court documents stated.

On Aug. 8, police contacted Zarrius Hildebrand at his home. While there, they observed a new package of sheets on the table, and that the only bed in the home did not have sheets on it. When they asked if they could search for Saria Hildebrand under the bed, Zarrius Hildebrand told them no.

Detectives also found two pistols on the kitchen table. When Zarrius was interviewed by special investigations units of the U.S. Army, he told them he only had one gun in the house.

Police obtained records showing that Zarrius Hildebrand purchased a set of sheets — the same brand that was found on the table — a mattress cover, some hydrogen peroxide, and a spray bottle.

Detectives did some research on possible disturbances in the area and found a complaint from a neighbor that heard a gun shot at approximately 2:45 a.m. on Sunday. The man said it was “close enough to his window that he was afraid to look outside” documents state. The neighbor showed detectives his window, which was directly across a small courtyard from the Hildebrand’s apartment. Police were sent to the area but didn’t find anything suspicious.

On Aug. 9, a search warrant was served on the apartment. Crime scene investigators lifted the mattress, which they found saturated with human blood. The investigators also used Bluestar, a chemical used to make cleaned blood visible to the human eye. The chemical was sprayed in multiple areas and traces of blood were seen all over the bathtub and some of the floors in the home.

During the search, the crew recovered the two handguns, one which was fully-loaded, and the other which was missing one bullet from the magazine.

On Aug. 10,  detectives were able to track the location of Zarrius Hildebrand’s phone to a Lowes store on Aug. 6 where he purchased a 96-gallon garbage can with wheels along with a mop and bucket.

Detectives were able to locate the garbage can in the back of a landscaping truck parked north of the apartment complex. The garbage can contained blood but no other evidence or human remains.

A search of the surrounding area and trail ensued, including the use of a police drone. Officers were able to spot something that appeared to be a pillow inside of a 4 to 5 foot storm drain. Investigators removed the lid and found human remains under a pillow in the storm drain.

“It appears she has a gunshot wound to her left temple,” court documents stated.

The remains were positively identified as Saria Hildebrand.

The family released a statement Saturday calling Saria a “beloved daughter” and “shining light.”

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Man kills newly-wed wife from Utah, hides her body in drainpipe in Alaska