To Stephanie Bissland, her husband Brian Smith was a thoughtful partner who loved the outdoors, took good care of her and dreamed of one day owning his own hotel in Alaska. But could the 48-year-old—who she met while online gaming—be a murderer as well?
Anchorage Police have charged Smith with two counts of murder for the deaths of two Alaskan Native women. One of the killings was allegedly captured on a digital memory card that had been dropped in the street. On it, there are photos and video allegedly showing 30-year-old Kathleen Henry being strangled to death as a voice in the background can be heard telling her to “just … die.”
After a woman found the memory card lying in the street and turned it into authorities, police said Smith admitted during questioning to shooting another woman as well, 53-year-old Veronica Abouchuck.
But Bissland told local station KTUU she was shocked by the allegations and had never seen the dark side authorities believe her husband was hiding.
"When I think about that, I think about how could I have missed something like that?" she said. "We all have tempers at times, but I never saw one that would do what these people are describing."
Bissland described her husband as someone who loved the outdoors and was often capturing Alaska’s majestic beauty and rural villages in photos and videos. Smith, who had been working at a hotel when he was arrested, also loved gadgets and was captured in one home video flying a drone outside the couple’s home.
In another video, Smith and Bissland can be seen kissing in the ocean on vacation.
Smith, an immigrant from South Africa, had become a United States citizen just last month, according to local station KTVA.
In South Africa, he had operated a guest house and his dream had been to one day own his own hotel again. He had been working at an area Marriott Suites and had just taken a new job at a Residence Inn when he was arrested, KTUU reports.
Bissland, a musician, discovered the shocking allegations against her husband from police while she was on vacation in Virginia.
"They said 'Was I pimping for him? Bringing girls?' You know, things like that, and 'Maybe you don't know your husband,'" Bissland told the local station.
Police identified Smith as a suspect in the murders after recognizing his distinct accent. Authorities had been aware of Smith because of another case they had been working, police said. They’ve declined to provide specifics about the other investigation.
Bissland claims she never saw any dark side to her husband, but has started to question their relationship now that Smith is behind bars.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges against him in both murders.
While Smith remains behind bars, Bissland is left trying to pick up the couple’s home after investigators spent hours searching the residence.
During the search, they seized computers, guns, rope, more digital memory cards and cut a large section of carpet out of the floor after spying what they believed may have been blood.
She’s also trying to reconcile what she’s learned from investigators with the man she thought she knew.
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