Missing Anchorage woman’s husband charged with her murder

Saria Barney Hildabrand
Anchorage police say 21-year-old Saria Barney Hildabrand, an Alaska Army National Guardsman last seen at her Midtown home on Aug. 6, 2023, was murdered by her husband, 21-year-old Zarrius Hildabrand. (Courtesy Brittany Monson)

Anchorage police say the Army soldier married to a woman missing since Sunday is now accused of murdering her.

Zarrius Hildabrand, 21, faces charges of first-degree and second-degree murder as well as evidence tampering in the death of 21-year-old Alaska Army National Guardsman Saria Hildabrand, police said Friday morning. His arrest follows a Thursday visit by police’s Crime Scene Team to a home near the Hildabrands’ residence on Mockingbird Drive in Midtown.

Family members had said Zarrius was the last person to see his wife when she left their home Sunday morning to walk to her job at Bread & Brew Alaska. He reported her missing on Monday, family said. 

Relatives, as well as police and military searchers, have been looking for Saria this week and posting flyers.

A missing person poster for Saria Barney Hildebrand.
Family posted missing flyers in University Lake Park, where Saria Hildabrand would often take her dog. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

A charging document against Zarrius Hildabrand, filed Thursday night, didn’t mention a motive. It says he told police that he and Saria had been out drinking and partying Saturday evening. When they woke up Sunday morning, according to his account, Saria didn’t feel good enough to drive to work and she walked instead.

Staff at Bread & Brew told police that they got a text at about 10:45 a.m. from Saria’s phone — which family members said had been left at home — saying she wasn’t going to work that day. Employees texted back that she needed to call the restaurant’s CEO, who told investigators he never got a call from her.

After she was reported missing, detectives visited the Hildabrands’ home. According to the charges, they saw that the only bed in the house didn’t have sheets, and was covered only by a mattress pad. Zarrius refused to let police look under the mattress.

A resident in the area told police he heard a nearby gunshot at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

Police obtained a search warrant for the Hildabrand home, and the department’s Crime Scene Team examined the bed on Wednesday.

“They described the mattress as being saturated by human blood,” said the charging document. “There was so much blood on the mattress that the blood soaked through onto the carpet and into the wood frame.”

Traces of blood were also found in the home’s bathroom, floors and bathtub, the charges say. Police found two handguns in the home, one of which “was missing one bullet out of the magazine.”

Police said Zarrius’ credit-card purchases this week included cleaning supplies, a mattress cover and a large, wheeled trash can. Police found a matching trash can Thursday morning in the back of a truck parked on Alpenhorn Avenue, and spotted what appeared to be blood inside it. Later that night, officers found a pillow inside of a storm drain, down a nearby trail. They discovered human remains beneath the pillow, according to the charges.

“The human remains were positively identified as Saria Hildabrand,” said the charging document. “It appears she has a gunshot wound to her left temple.”

A police spokeswoman said Zarrius Hildabrand was arrested Thursday night in the parking lot near his apartment building. He was in custody Friday morning at the Anchorage Correctional Complex, and appeared in jail court that afternoon. Zarrius said little, but told the judge he couldn’t afford a lawyer.

A person wearing orange jumpsuit and handcuffs at a podium with a microphone.
Zarrius Hildabrand appeared in court on Friday. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

Saria’s mother Meredith Barney was in the courtroom, and told the judge that Zarrius lied to her, putting up a front earlier this week like he had no idea where her daughter was.

“He walked around with me for hours searching for my daughter knowing that she was dead,” Barney said. “He lied to me multiple times and tried to play it off like he was a concerned husband.”

The judge set Zarrius’ bail at $500,000 cash.

A Friday statement from the Army’s 11th Airborne Division identified Zarrius as a specialist, serving as a cannon crewmember assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) at Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Army officials expressed their condolences for the death of Saria, who served in the Guard as a specialist and combat medic.

“Any loss in the Army family is a tragedy,” Army officials said in the statement.

Family described Saria as an outgoing, loving and caring person. She moved to Alaska at the beginning of the year, and planned to sign up for college courses this fall on her way to a career in medicine. 

Outside the courtroom Friday afternoon, Barney mourned the loss of her daughter. 

“I was excited for her. She’d really thought about: This is my next move, this is how I’m gonna progress my life forward,” Barney said. “I was proud of her.”

A woman in a green flannel with sunglasses pushed up on her head. She is crying.
Meredith Barney outside jail court on Friday. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

The family has started a gofundme to help cover expenses.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at cklint@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Chris here.

Dev Hardikar was Alaska Public Media's 2023 summer news intern. Reach him at dhardikar@alaskapublic.org.

Previous articleViral ‘Fish Camp Barbie’ celebrates Alaska Native heritage
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Friday, August 11, 2023