Police say he refused to let them look under the bed because of "stuff used for sex" when they returned the next day with a warrant they found the mattress was "saturated by human blood."
A 21-year-old soldier who reported his wife missing then helped aid Alaska police and the woman’s family search for her, in addition to posting pleas on social media, has been arrested for murder.
The deceased woman Saria Hildabrand, a 21-year-old medic in the National Guard, was reported missing to authorities in Anchorage on Monday last week by her husband Army Spc. Zarrius Hildabrand.
Saria was not found until four days later on Thursday in a drain pipe with an apparent gunshot wound to the left temple. Her husband’s arrest in connection with the homicide was announced the following day.
He walked around for hours with me searching for my daughter knowing that she was dead,” the victim’s mother Meredith Barney said
Zarrius reportedly told authorities that he and his wife had been partying with friends on August 5 for his birthday — and did not get home until the wee hours the following morning.
They both woke up hungover, Zarrius said per court docs, but Saria had to work a shift at a sandwich shop, Bread & Brew. Not feeling well, Saria walked to work instead of driving, according to her husband’s account.
His version of events claim that while she took her purse and wallet, the soon-to-be missing woman had forgotten her cellphone at their residence. According to Zarrius, he did not realize his wife was missing until 7 p.m. that evening when he arrived at the sandwich shop to pick her up and learned she had never arrived earlier that day for her shift.
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Police say he told them “he had been searching for Saria ever since.” The soldier reportedly said that he had then begun his hunt by going to friends’ homes and contacting her parents, hospitals and even the local jail. He also claimed he had then driven all over their neighborhood in search of his wife before finally turning to police on Monday night last week.
Police say he told them he had waited so long to file the report “because he thought he might find his wife and find it was a misunderstanding.”
In addition to taking police on the route he said his wife would walk to work on — a path law enforcement and dozens of volunteers searched — he also posted pleas to Facebook asking for help in finding Saria.
The day after he filed the missing persons report, Zarrius allowed police to look around their home.
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Investigators noted there was no sheet on the bed, with only a mattress pad on top. Detectives said a brand new set of sheets, still in their packaging, was on a kitchen table. Zarrius claimed his spouse had bought the sheets and that in fact the bed currently had a sheet on it. He then lifted the mattress pad slightly and showed them a fitted sheet was in fact hidden underneath. Detectives then asked if they could examine the area under the sheet.
“He said we couldn’t search under the bed because there was ’embarrassing’ items underneath,” law enforcement said. “He finally told us it was stuff used for sex. We asked him if he would move those items while we looked away, and again he said we couldn’t look under the bed.”
Police returned the following day with a warrant and a crime scene team lifted the pad, with an officer writing in court docs, “They described the mattress as being saturated by human blood.”
In their search, authorities discovered two handguns — they say Zarrius had told them the household only had one gun.
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Law enforcement say they found other inconsistencies with the soldier’s story. Initially he had told them he’d stayed home on the day his wife had gone missing until he drove to her work to pick her up — but he later claimed to have left the house during the day to run errands. Another claim he made was that she had forgotten her cellphone at home and had left for work at 10 a.m. but they found her phone had been used to send a text message at 10:45 a.m. The text was sent to her work, Bread & Brew, to tell them she was calling out of work.
“Bread & Brew has lost a part of us,” the sandwich shop said in a Facebook post.
The complaint also says, Zarrius went to the store on three separate trips on August 6 — items he reportedly bought include bed sheets, mattress cover, hydrogen peroxide, spray bottle and marinara sauce, investigators say.
Saria’s mother, Meredith Barney, reacted to her son-in-law’s arrest for the murder of her daughter — telling Anchorage Daily News in the immediate aftermath: “He walked around for hours with me searching for my daughter knowing that she was dead.”
Court docs say Zarrius made 3 trips to the store to buy bed sheets, a mattress cover, hydrogen peroxide, a spray bottle and marinara sauce
“He lied to me multiple times and tried to play it off like he was a concerned husband,” the distraught mother told the outlet, per Fox News.
Barney told AP of her daughter, “She was such a hard worker — really driven. She was a really great big sister. She really cared about people. She was smart and ready to move forward, looking toward her future.”
Saria was remembered by the National Guard, which she had been serving with since April.
“Spc. Hildabrand took an oath to selflessly serve and defend not only the state of Alaska, but the entire nation, a commitment worthy of admiration and respect,” a spokesperson said. “Her untimely passing impacts everyone on the Alaska National Guard team. She will be sorely missed.”
Zarrius Hildabrand has been charged with murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and tampering with evidence.
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