The Suspect In The SD Card Killing Was Charged With The Murder Of A Second Alaska Native Woman
Police were interviewing him about footage of a woman being tortured and killed that was found in an SD card when he allegedly confessed to murdering a second woman.
A grand jury in Alaska indicted Brian Steven Smith for the murder of a second woman Thursday, a week after police arrested him on a murder charge in connection with a memory card containing videos and photos of him allegedly torturing and killing a woman.
According to an Alaska Department of Law statement provided to BuzzFeed News, police were interviewing Smith about the contents in the SD card when he confessed to shooting another woman between 2017 and 2018.
He told police where he left her body, and authorities were able to identify the second victim as Veronica Abouchuk, a 52-year-old woman.
Earlier this year, state troopers had found a skull with a gunshot wound near the location Smith said her body would be.
Deputy district attorney Brittany Dunlop told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that both victims were Alaska Native women but declined to comment on whether Smith chose his victims because they were Native.
"These were two Alaska Native women and I know that hits home here in Alaska," Dunlop said. "We're cognizant of that."
The Anchorage Police Department and the Alaska Department of Law did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Smith, a South African who lives in Anchorage, was arrested on a first-degree murder charge on Oct. 8 after a woman found an SD card titled "homicide at midtown Marriott" on a street.
The card contained footage of a woman being strangled and attacked by a man who had an accent, and detectives identified Smith as a suspect after recalling a prior investigation.
Indigenous women in the US face among the highest rates of murder in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the rate of sexual assault among Native women is more than twice the national average.
AN Urban Indian Health Institute study found 31 records of missing or murdered indigenous women in Anchorage between 1975 and 2018. Many of those cases, the study noted, remain unsolved. Only Seattle and Albuquerque, two cities with roughly double the population of Anchorage, had more cases.