A 48-year-old Anchorage man was charged with murder after someone found a digital card containing dozens of videos and photos that authorities say show him beating and killing a woman in a Midtown hotel room.
The womans body was found last week along the Seward Highway south of the city. She has not been identified.
Detectives recognized Brian Steven Smith from the graphic videos because Smith is involved in a separate ongoing investigation, said Anchorage Police Department spokesman MJ Thim.
Thim declined to say anything about the other investigation, or whether Smith is a suspect in other crimes. He was taken into custody on an arrest warrant for first-degree murder Tuesday afternoon at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, police said in an online release Wednesday.
An affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against him details a strange chain of events that led police to a trove of gruesome videos and photos.
Last Monday, Sept. 30, a woman called police dispatch to report that shed found an SD card containing a video of a homicide on the ground, police said. The caller later told officers the card — a small memory card used in portable digital devices — was discarded on the street at the corner of Fairbanks Street and 13th Avenue in Fairview, near the Gambell Carrs store.
Homicide detectives began combing through the 39 images and 12 videos on the card, all documenting a horrifying scene of violence against an unknown woman.
The images showed a naked woman being beaten on the floor of a hotel room, according to the affidavit. Other images showed her being strangled by a man who was yelling at her to die in what sounded like a foreign accent, at one point stomping on her throat. It appeared that Smith recorded them himself, according to the affidavit.
Other images showed the woman covered in a white sheet, being moved through a parking lot to a truck. Time-stamps on the images at the hotel showed they were taken in the early hours of Sept. 4, the affidavit said.
The final images on the card show the womans body face down in the bed of a pickup, and were time-stamped Sept. 6.
Police recognized the man in the videos as Brian Smith, an immigrant from South Africa police knew of from a previous investigation,” according to the affidavit.
Smith and his wife also have a truck matching the one in the images, and pings from his cellphone put him along Rainbow Valley Road off the Seward Highway, near where the womans body was found, within minutes of the last time-stamped photos of the body, the affidavit said.
Smith had registered a room at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott the night the video was taken, according to the affidavit.
The woman, who has not yet been identified, is described as having long dark hair and possibly being Alaska Native.
Thim said the arrest hinged on two aspects of the investigation: the citizen who chose to call police when they found that card, and the coordination between law enforcement agencies handling the separate cases of the videos and the body.
Detectives knew almost immediately that something was wrong, that someones loved one was killed when they found her remains, he said.
Theres also the question of how an SD card containing images and videos of a murder, labeled Homicide at midtown Marriott, came to be discarded on a busy Anchorage street.
Little is known about Smith, the man charged. Public records show that he lives in a home in the Geneva Woods neighborhood, and a social media profile that appears to belong to him says he married an Anchorage woman in 2014.
In court Wednesday, Smith appeared in handcuffs, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit. He told Anchorage District Court Judge Brian Clark that he had about $2,000 in total saved.
Clark asked that he be appointed a public defender and set his bail at $500,000 cash appearance bond and a $250,000 cash performance bond.
The case marks the second killing in less than six months involving a video. A Snapchat video showed two of the teens accused of killing 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman near the Thunderbird Falls trailhead in June apparently discussing the crime.
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) – An SD memory card found in the street has led police to arrest a man for murder regarding the human remains found near the Seward Highway last week.
Anchorage Police say 48-year-old Brian Steven Smith has been arrested on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of the woman who police say is listed as a Jane Doe.
Police say a woman called them Monday, Sept. 30, to say shed found an SD card that contained video of a homicide. The woman told police shed found the SD card in the street in Fairview.
Police say there were several images and videos that appeared to show the assault and homicide of a woman.
Two days later, on Oct. 2, officers were called to Milepost 108 of the Seward Highway, where human remains were found. Police believe the remains are of the woman shown in the video.
“Once we viewed images on the SD card, we notified our detectives in the homicide unit and they took over that part of the investigations,” APD spokesman MJ Thim said.
Thim says investigators were able to quickly identify the suspect in the video because detectives were familiar with him from a separate ongoing investigation. Thim would specify neither the nature of the separate investigation nor Smiths role in it.
Smith was arrested at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Tuesday without incident. Thim says he was returning to Anchorage when he was arrested. Thim says Smith is the only suspect in the case.
Police believe the crime took place in Anchorage in the first week of September at TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Midtown. APD says the first recording on the SD card was taken on September 4 and other images were created a few days later.