World / Crime & Legal

Memory card with murder videos leads to arrest in Alaska


A digital memory card found on a street in Alaska’s largest city contained videos of a woman being strangled and pictures of her lying face-down in the back of a truck, according to police and a charging document released Wednesday.

Anchorage police believe human remains that were found along a highway this month are those of the woman. Authorities are working to identify her and her manner of death.

Police arrested Brian Steven Smith, 48, on a murder charge Tuesday.

Smith had a brief court appearance Wednesday in which he was not asked to enter a plea. After Smith said he could not afford a lawyer, the judge said he would appoint a public defender for him.

Deputy District Attorney Brittany L. Dunlop said the process calls for the case to be brought before a grand jury.

The investigation continues.

A charging document filed by the Department of Law and based on a review of the investigation so far graphically describes the images and videos on the card, which someone reported finding on a street in Anchorage last week. The card contained 39 images and 12 videos, the document states.

The videos show the woman being strangled, with a man’s voice in one saying, “Just … die,” according to the document. There are pictures of the woman under a blanket on a hotel luggage cart near a truck and in the truck bed, the document states.

Police spokesman M.J. Thim said police believe Smith recorded the events himself. Police believe the killing occurred in early September.

Smith lives in Anchorage but is from South Africa, Thim said.

Police reviewing the footage remembered Smith, who has an accent, from another investigation and found he was registered in early September to a room at a local hotel whose carpet matched that in the footage, the document says. They also used vehicle and cellphone records in their investigation.