Details emerge in arrest of husband related to Anchorage woman’s death

Police report body of 21-year-old Saria Hildabrand was found, case now a homicide investigation
A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder after his wife’s body was found amidst a days-long search in Anchorage.
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:32 AM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 9:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A 21-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder after his wife’s body was found amidst a days-long search in Anchorage.

The Anchorage Police Department said Friday morning that Zarrius Hildabrand was arrested and placed in custody at the Anchorage Jail on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, as well as tampering with evidence, in a case that is now being investigated as a homicide.

Officials with the department said the body of 21-year-old Saria Hildabrand was found, leading to her husband’s arrest. Saria Hildabrand, who has been living in Anchorage with Zarrius for roughly six months, has been missing since Sunday morning, according to her family.

Both were members of the Alaska military and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson communities. Zarrius is a cannon crewmember assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 11th Airborne Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Saria was also a member of the military, having joined the Alaska Army National Guard in April of this year 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment as a combat medic. She previously served in the Utah Army National Guard, where she enlisted in May of 2021 and worked as a field artillery firefinder radar operator.

Her family said Hildabrand was last seen and heard from on Sunday around 10 a.m. near her Campbell Park apartment complex, where she lived with her husband.

According to police, Hildabrand left her apartment to go to work that morning, but left her phone at home, which her family says is abnormal for her.

Zarrius Hildabrand posted on his Facebook page Wednesday night asking for help searching for Saria, more than two days after her family reported her missing. As of publication, the post had not yet been deleted.

Screenshot of Zarrius Hildabrand's Facebook post asking for help searching for Saria Hildabrand.
Screenshot of Zarrius Hildabrand's Facebook post asking for help searching for Saria Hildabrand.(Screenshot of Facebook)

According to charging documents from police, Zarrius and Saria Hildabrand were out with friends on the night of Aug. 5, a Saturday, celebrating Zarrius’ 21st birthday.

The report stated that Zarrius told police that he and his wife returned home late at night, around 2 a.m. It later stated that a neighbor heard a gunshot around 2:45 a.m. from a nearby apartment, but did not go outside to investigate out of fear.

Hildabrand told police that Saria had planned to go to work on Sunday morning and left the apartment around 10 a.m. The report said he told police she walked to work due to still being hungover from the previous night, and that she didn’t bring her phone. It also said a friend who was out with the couple on Saturday night told police that Saria had no intentions of going to work on Sunday and had planned to call off work.

Several of Saria’s coworkers told police that they received a text message from her around 10:45 a.m. Sunday stating that she was calling off work, which the charging docs state conflicted with Zarrius’ report that she did not bring her phone with her to work. Hildabrand denied sending the text and could not explain how that happened.

Hildabrand told investigators that he “didn’t really worry about his wife” until around 10 p.m. Sunday, when he went out to look for her by driving around the neighborhood. He also told investigators that he waited until Monday evening to file a missing person report because he believed she might show up and “find it was a misunderstanding.”

Anchorage police officers who talked to Hildabrand said they noticed two pistols on his kitchen table, but the charging docs also stated that when the Army Criminal Investigation Division spoke with Zarrius on Wednesday, he told their investigation team that he only had one gun in the apartment.

According to the docs, officers confirmed that Hildabrand made three separate purchases at the Fred Meyer store on Northern Lights Boulevard on Sunday, including a set of new bed sheets, hydrogen peroxide, and an empty spray bottle.

Furthermore, officers stated in the report that Hildabrand was confirmed to have visited the Lowe’s hardware store on Tudor Road on Sunday night and purchased a 96-gallon trash can with wheels.

Investigators said a drone search on Thursday discovered evidence that ultimately led officers to find Saria’s body.

Zarrius Hildabrand appeared in court for the first time on Friday, wearing an orange jumpsuit.

Saria’s mother Meredith Barney, who lives in Mount Pleasant, Utah, flew up to Alaska on Tuesday to assist in searching for her daughter. In court, she delivered a short statement requesting that Zarrius be kept in custody. After her son-in-law’s appearance in court, Barney spoke to reporters.

“She’s just like the most amazing, precious child ever. She’s just always been looking for the future, happy, and really like loved. She loved everybody. Everyone loved her,” Barney said.

Barney, when asked if she had any concerns about her daughter’s relationship, replied that she did not.

“I didn’t, not anything that wasn’t abnormal for like newlywed people trying to figure out living together,” Barney said. She also said that Zarrius calling her from Saria’s phone was out of the ordinary, and that is when she began to suspect something was not night.

Upon hearing of Saria’s death, the Alaska Army National Guard released a statement about the loss of the young specialist.

“The entire Alaska National Guard team is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Spc. Saria Hildabrand. Our most sincere condolences go out to her family and friends in the wake of this terrible tragedy,” the statement read.

“Spc. Hildabrand officially joined the Alaska Army National Guard in April 2023 and was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company,1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment as a 68W, Combat Medic. Prior to transferring to the AKARNG, she served as a 13R, Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator, in the Utah Army National Guard. She enlisted in the UTARNG in May 2021.”

“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. Her untimely passing impacts everyone on the Alaska National Guard team. She will be sorely missed,” the statement read.

The 11th Airborne Division’s public affairs department also issued a statement regarding the arrest of Zarrius Hildabrand.

“The 11th Airborne Division is saddened to hear of the death of Specialist Saria Barney Hildabrand of the Alaska Army National Guard and offer our condolences to her family. Any loss in the Army family is a tragedy,” the Army’s statement read.

“We acknowledge that in conjunction with this loss that the Anchorage Police Department announced the arrest of an 11th Airborne Division Soldier, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. According to the release, Specialist Zarrius Hildabrand was taken into custody and remanded at the Anchorage jail for murder and tampering of evidence.

Specialist Zarrius Hildabrand is a cannon crewmember assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 11th Airborne Division, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He joined the Army in September 2021, and arrived in Alaska in April of 2022. All questions in regards to the ongoing investigation should be directed to the Anchorage Police Department.”

Neighbors that lived in the same apartment complex said Saria was “super sweet”. Maria Edwards, who said she lives next door to the Hildabrands, said the couple shared two dogs and were often seen together outside of their home.

“They were always together, which is what I told police units that were here, that they were always together when they came in and when they left, I always saw them together,” Edwards said. “So it was kind of a surprise to hear that all of a sudden she was missing on her way to work, because they were always together. Which is really hard for me to understand.”

The same neighbor reported seeing Zarrius hours after he is suspected of killing his wife.

“It was Sunday, our fire alarms kept going off this week, and we had talked about the fire alarm system. But he didn’t show me any kind of inclination that maybe something was off. So that was a surprise.”

“She was super sweet, it’s hard to know that she’s gone,” Edwards said. “That’s hard.”

The family has created a GoFundMe to assist with their current financial difficulties as a result of Saria’s death.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Editor’s note: Alaska’s News Source makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of any GoFundMe campaign. Any donations you make to such campaigns are strictly at your own risk. If you have any questions related to the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of a GoFundMe campaign, please contact GoFundMe directly or consult the GoFundMe Guarantee Policy.