"One of the first questions that detectives had to answer was, 'Was this staged, or did this really happen?'" says an official with the Anchorage Police Department. Unfortunately, it really happened. The official was referring to the discovery of a digital memory card that appeared to show a murder in a hotel room. Now a man is under arrest in the unusual and brutal case. The details:
- The memory card: On Sept. 30, a woman found an SD card lying on an Anchorage street with the disturbing label "homicide at midtown Marriott," reports Alaska Public Media. It contained multiple videos and photos of a man beating and choking a naked woman inside a hotel room. It also showed the woman's body being removed from the room in a blanket on a luggage cart and placed into a pickup truck.
- Body found: Two days after the video was turned in, police discovered the body of a woman along Seward Highway, per KTUU. She has not been identified, but police believe she is the woman in the video. She has long dark hair and is believed to be a native Alaskan, reports the Washington Post.
- The suspect: Police have arrested 48-year-old Brian Steven Smith, a native of South Africa who now lives in Anchorage, reports the Anchorage Daily News. Detectives who watched the video were familiar with him from another case, per the AP. They say the distinctive accent of the man in the video matches that of Smith's, and he drives the same kind of pickup seen in the video. Smith remains in custody and is charged with first-degree murder.
- The killing: Police say it took place during the first week of September in the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Anchorage. The first images on the SD card—12 videos and 39 photos—have time stamps from the early hours of Sept. 4. At one point, the man can be heard saying, "just ... die" during the assault, according to charging documents. At another point, the man is laughing during the attack, according to the documents.
(Anchorage has been battling a rising murder rate