Accused killer in hotel homicide has second victim, police say

Deputy District Attorney Brittany Dunlap announces additional charges against Brian Smith.
By  | 

KTUU (Anchorage) -- Brian Steven Smith, 48, is accused of killing a second woman, 53-year-old Veronica Abouchuk.

On Thursday, a grand jury handed up additional felony charges against Smith related to Abouchuk's death.

According to newly-filed charges, Abouchuk and another woman, 30-year-old Kathleen Henry, met similar fates after encounters with Smith.

Calling the deaths "brutal," and noting that after each murder Smith "dumped the body along the side of the road like unwanted trash," prosecutors want Smith's bail raised to $2 million.

Both women were petite with frames much smaller than Smith's. And they were vulnerable, known to experience homelessness and addiction. Now, they are among Alaska's missing and murdered indigenous women.

"Our sincere condolences to the families of the victims in this case," Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll told reporters during a press conference at police headquarters in downtown Anchorage.

Deputy District Attorney Brittany Dunlop announced Smith faces new murder charges, and charges of tampering with evidence, related to Abouchuk's death.

If found guilty, Smith could receive a life sentence.

"We hope that these charges bring some closure to folks for their missing loved ones," Dunlop said.

Where Henry was beaten, strangled, and left on the side of the Seward Highway south of Anchorage, Abouchuk was shot, and left on the side of the Old Glenn Highway north of Anchorage.

Veronica Abouchuk (Image from Anchorage Police Department

Smith is indicted on 13 felonies. A Grand Jury found he subjected Henry to substantial physical torture. The state is also charging him with a misdemeanor for "sexual penetration of a corpse."

He faces a potential life sentence if found guilty.

Abouchuk's killing occurred between 2017 and 2018. Henry was killed early this September.

Court records detail Smith's admission Oct. 8 to police that he left Henry's body along the highway. They also reveal his admission that he was the man in the images and videos on a mysteriously-acquired memory card that documents Henry's death.

During the same interview, police say Smith confessed to shooting a female in 2017 or 2018. He told police where he left the body, and identified a photo of Abouchuk as the woman he had killed.

Smith, a married immigrant from South Africa who gained citizenship last month, remains in custody. His wife, Stephanie Bissland, visited him Thursday. She told KTUU Smith said "he wouldn't get out of there."