Court docs allege husband tried to cover up Utah woman’s murder in Alaska

Posted at 7:45 AM, August 16, 2023

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Scripps News Salt Lake City) — Court documents for the alleged murder of a Utah woman in Alaska indicate that her husband went to great lengths to hide her death from law enforcement.

Saria Barney Hildabrand, 21, was from Utah and was living with her husband in Anchorage. She was found dead Thursday night after a multi-day search, and police provided a timeline of events that led to her husband’s arrest in a document newly obtained by Scripps News Salt Lake City.

Zarrius Ray Hildabrand, also age 21, is charged with two counts of murder and tampering with evidence. He was an active duty member of the military, and Saria served as a combat medic in the Alaska Army National Guard.

According to the police report, Zarrius reported Saria missing on Monday, Aug. 7. He claimed his wife walked to work at a local sandwich shop on Sunday morning, but when he went to pick her up that evening, he learned that she never made it to work. He said he spent the rest of the night and the following morning searching for her by calling friends, family, jails and hospitals.

However, investigators later discovered that his story didn’t line up with information they received from Saria’s coworkers. He claimed Saria forgot her phone when she left for work sometime between 9-10 a.m., but her coworkers said they received a text from her phone around 10:45 a.m. saying she wouldn’t make it in. They replied that she’d need to call the owner, but they received a reply from her phone saying she didn’t have the owner’s phone number. Employees and the owner both said Saria would have had the owner’s number because she has called it in the past to report an absence from work.

On Tuesday, Zarrius gave officers permission to enter their home to make sure she was nowhere inside. Officers noticed a bed with no sheets on it, but only a mattress pad, along with a set of brand-new sheets on the table. Zarrius then lifted part of the mattress pad up to show that there was a fitted sheet on the mattress. However, he would not let them fully lift up the pad or sheets or look under the bed.

Police obtained receipts showing that Zarrius purchased a set of sheets, a mattress cover, hydrogen peroxide, an empty spray bottle, and marinara sauce on Aug. 8. They also learned that Zarrius purchased a 96-gallon garbage can from a hardware store.

On Wednesday, police obtained a search warrant and searched the couple’s home. They discovered that the mattress was “saturated” by blood, so much so that there was blood on the bed frame and on the floor below. They also used a “blood reagent spray” in other areas of the home and found remnants of blood — which they said would normally be invisible to the naked eye without the spray — all over the bathtub and some on the floor.

After an extensive search, a police-owned drone spotted a pillow and “something light colored” inside a storm drain just off a trail near the Hildabrands’ home on Thursday evening. They ultimately discovered Saria’s body and said she appeared to have a gunshot wound to her left temple.

While searching the home, police also said they found two guns — one of which had one found missing from the magazine, but no shell casing was found anywhere.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.