Do Anchorage police have a serial killer in custody? - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
HomeThe 907Do Anchorage police have a serial killer in custody?

Do Anchorage police have a serial killer in custody?

HOW MANY OTHERS ARE THERE?

Brian Steven Smith, 48, had been in custody since Oct. 8 for the gruesome murder of Kathleen Henry, an Alaska Native woman. He has pled not guilty to charges associated with that crime.

But oddly, he has confessed to a second murder.

Anchorage police announced Thursday that Smith is also the man who killed 53-year-old Veronica Rosaline Abouchuk, whose body was dumped at Mile 4.5 of the Old Glenn Highway in 2018, and was found in April of this year, a bullet hole in her skull.

Police had put out a Nixle alert for Abouchuk in July of 2019, saying her family had not seen her since July of 2018.  “Abouchuk is homeless … and was last seen at Bean’s Café in October 2018. Family’s efforts to locate Abouchuk have been unsuccessful,” the Nixle report said.

Victims Kathleen Henry, Veronica Rosaline Abouchuk

Investigators drew the confession from Smith while interrogating him for the murder of Henry, the 30-year-old Native woman from Eek, whom police say Smith brutally beat and killed on Sept. 4, all while filming and photographing his carnage. Henry’s body was dumped near Mile 108 Seward Highway, south of Anchorage.

The digital card that was turned into authorities had 12 video and 39 photo images on it documenting Henry’s death. Police are saying it was found “on the street” by someone. The digital card was labeled “homicide at midtown Marriott” in Anchorage. The person who “found the digital card on the street” in Fairview took it to police on Sept. 30, according to the official account.

Police knew they had a killer, and they knew there was a dead woman out there somewhere. But where?

Henry’s body showed up on Oct. 2 near the Rainbow Trailhead along Seward Highway south of Anchorage. She had been sexually assaulted and was battered, like the one documented on the digital card turned in two days earlier.

The photos and videos show Henry fighting for her life and Smith could be seen stomping her throat and strangling her, laughing, screaming, and torturing her, according to officials.

But police knew that voice on the video tape. They recognized Smith and his distinctive South African accent because they were already investigating him for something else — something they haven’t yet revealed, yet something that involves his recognizable accent.

It could be his racist rants on Facebook that had drawn the attention of authorities. Smith, if his social media posts are any indication, has white supremacist leanings and an axe to grind against black South Africans and other persons of color.

Or detectives may have already suspected him in connection with other victims. At age 48, Smith is old enough to have a trail of bodies behind him from here to his homeland in South Africa. Rarely does a killer begin his gruesome beatings and killings in his mid-40s. There’s often a pattern of behavior.

Anchorage’s most notorious serial killer was Robert Hansen, a monster who preyed on and killed at least 17 women from 1971 to 1983. Police suspect there were more than 30 victims. Hansen, now known as the “Butcher Baker,” died in prison in 2014.

Israel Keyes was another serial killer who made his way to Alaska and used it as his base. He killed himself in prison in 2012, after a long career of rapes, kidnapping, arson, and murder across the United States. His last known victim was 18-year-old Samantha Koenig, a barista at a drive-through coffee stand in midtown Anchorage.

There are exceptions to the pattern theory. This summer in Anchorage, a teenager was killed by her alleged friends at the request of a 21-year-old man from out of state. None of the young perpetrators has yet been implicated in other murders.

[Read: Investigators say Schilmiller offered $9 million for murder of Cynthia Hoffman]

Brian Smith’s past movements in South Africa and the United States have drawn the attention of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization. The FBI is also providing assistance, and usually that means they’re alert to the possibility there could be victims in other states.

Smith, born near Queenstown, South Africa, immigrated to the U.S., married a former immigration officer, and became a citizen in September.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on Oct. 7. He was taken into custody at Ted Stevens International Airport on Oct. 8, as he returned from a trip Outside. Smith pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the Henry murder. He’ll be arraigned on the Abouchuk murder separately.

Both deceased women were known to work in the prostitution field, a dangerous line of work that predators use to find their next victims.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Days ago, I watched his face closely in a video of his arraignment for murdering Kathleen Henry, and immediately told a friend that “this guy’s a serial killer, this isn’t his first time”, and that the S. African LEO’s should be questioned about unsolved murders in their area with the same MO.

    On another note, Alaska needs the death penalty, or at the very least, sentences of life without the possibility of parole, for those found guilty of 1st degree murder and/or crimes against children.

    • Good job inspector.
      Every murder should be met in kind by firing squad. Could argue the same for sex offenders regardless of back ground or culture. They are slimy filth that will just repeat if given opportunity.

  • First, God Bless these two young women and God Bless their grieving families. What an absolutely horrific thing these young women #MMIW had to endure at the hands of this monster.
    .
    I only wish more attention was drawn to #MMIW than one Nixle report. What does it take to have a billboard, showing the faces of all missing native Alaskan women? “Who killed Bonnie?”, for those that have been around for some time, was a prominent site everywhere you looked. These were privately funded I am sure, but perhaps the Native Corporations can step up to the plate and fund a REAL MMIW campaign, rather than b*tch and complain and be rude to our Governor. I have no doubt he would give all he could on the State side for such efforts and partnership.
    .
    This monster confesses to the murder – and God knows what else he did – to Veronica Abouchuk, but denies the murder he committed on tape? What a freakazoid.
    .
    I also pray for this monster’s wife. I believe he prayed upon her as well. Setting himself up for “cover” and wooing a woman 20 years his senior. Even if they were having trouble in their 5-year marriage, I can’t imagine the horror she is experiencing now knowing the man she fell in love with and married is a complete sicko monster murder, rapist, torturer. I bet she has barfed and can’t scrub her skin enough.
    .
    May God be with Veronica Abouchuk and Kathleen Henry and their families. Two young women whose lives were stolen by a monster.

  • He should be tried under a federal hate crime (or other death penalty offense) and be fast tracked to the electric chair.

  • How did he gain citizenship? How many others were pushed through the system??

    • Terry,
      He gained citizenship by marrying a USA citizen… He married her, probably as a decoy,… His wife is 20 years older… I question where they met, and if it was online… It appears she was in the dark about his dark side… FBI and Interpol apparently investigating his history…

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