Alaska Soldier Charged with Murder of National Guard Wife Who Disappeared

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The body of Saria Barney Hildabrand, a 21-year-old medic in the Alaska Army National Guard, was discovered last week.
The body of Saria Barney Hildabrand, a 21-year-old medic in the Alaska Army National Guard, was discovered last week. (Photo courtesy of Barney family)

A soldier in Alaska has been charged with murder after the body of his missing wife -- also a member of the Army -- was discovered in a storm drain in Anchorage near an apartment the two shared, according to local media reports.

Zarrius Hildabrand, 21, was arrested Friday and charged with first- and second-degree murder, as well as tampering with evidence in the death of his wife, Saria Hildabrand, 21, according to law enforcement. He had reported her missing Aug. 7, and joined his wife's family and search teams who were hoping to find her alive.

Dozens of volunteers, including about 40 National Guardsmen, joined the family in the search for Saria over several days last week, according to a service spokesperson. The two were married in December, and Saria was a medic in the Alaska Army National Guard.

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Zarrius Hildabrand was arraigned on the murder charges in Anchorage on Friday.

The two met in basic training, Saria Hildabrand's mother, Meredith Barney, told local media Friday. Saria originally enlisted into the Utah National Guard as a field artillery firefinder radar operator in May 2021, but joined the Alaska National Guard in April.

Zarrius Hildabrand initially told police his wife left for work the morning she went missing. That evening, he called police and her family, who flew in from Utah to help in search efforts.

He also took to Facebook to post photos of his wife and plead for the public to share any details on her disappearance with the police, writing "Updated information on my missing wife PLEASE SHARE AND REPOST!!!!!!"

"He walked around for hours with me searching for my daughter, knowing that she was dead," Barney said during an arraignment Friday, according to the Anchorage Daily News. "He lied to me multiple times, and tried to play it off like he was a concerned husband."

Saria, who served in the Alaska Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, as a medic, was supposed to go to work Aug. 6, but never showed up.

Zarrius reported her missing after he was supposed to pick her up from work that evening.

Neighbors reported hearing a gunshot around 2:45 a.m., according to the Anchorage Daily News. Authorities discovered Zarrius' bed was missing a sheet and there was a new sheet on his kitchen table.

He went to the store the day his wife disappeared to buy hydrogen peroxide, a mattress cover, a large wheeled garbage can, and the new bedsheet, the newspaper reported.

Zarrius Hildabrand is an artilleryman assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He enlisted into the Army in September 2021.

"Spc. [Saria] 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," Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, said in a statement. "Her untimely passing impacts everyone on the Alaska National Guard team. She will be sorely missed."

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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