Crime & Courts

‘I have something to show you’: Smith texted Anchorage man in hours after hotel room killing, met him at Hillside park

Early on the morning of Sept. 4, 2019, as sickening videos and photos of Kathleen Henry’s torture and killing were being filmed, Brian Smith texted an Anchorage man.

“Heh. You up? I’m having fun,” Smith texted at 12:54 a.m., according to phone records entered as evidence in Smith’s trial for murder in the deaths of Henry, 30, and Veronica Abouchuk, 52, on Wednesday.

The evidence phase of Smith’s trial ended Wednesday, with both the prosecution and defense resting their cases. The defense called no witnesses and Smith chose not to testify in his defense. Closing statements are expected Thursday in the three-week-long trial.

Wednesday’s testimony revealed more about one of the trial’s mysteries: Why did Smith take a trip to an Anchorage Hillside park hours after prosecutors say he killed Henry, a time Smith told detectives he was driving around with her body in the back of his truck?

He was going to meet the person he had texted, Ian Calhoun, testified Anchorage Police Department Detective Brendan Lee.

On Wednesday, Lee walked jurors through a series of text and Facebook messages between Smith and Calhoun, a 27-year-old Anchorage heavy metal band drummer.

On Wednesday, Calhoun declined to comment through his attorney, Wally Tetlow.


Calhoun responded to Smith’s “You up?” text seven hours later. He said he’d been asleep when Smith texted.

They talked back and forth a bit, with Smith saying “I did have fun” and “wanted to share.”

Calhoun texted back “we need to get together for a drink soon.”

Then Smith texted something chilling at 9:20 a.m.: “I have something to show you. Something I can’t keep for too long.”

The testimony also raised questions that will go unanswered in this trial: Through his attorney, Calhoun invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination, which the court found to be valid.

With that finding, Calhoun could not have been compelled to testify unless the state had granted him immunity from prosecution. The state denied a request for immunity. Calhoun was released from a subpoena.

Court records show that he has not been charged with any crime.

The conversations between Smith and Calhoun continued throughout Sept. 4, the detective testified.

That afternoon, Smith texted Calhoun again at 3:36 p.m., suggesting they find a “secluded spot to meet.”

The two later made plans to meet up that afternoon at Forsythe Park, on the Anchorage Hillside.

On that day, Smith later told detectives, he was driving around with Kathleen Henry’s body in the back of his covered pickup truck, concealed with a blue tarp and white sheet.

“Heh. I’m at a small park close to your home,” Smith texted Calhoun. “You finish work yet?”

Cellphone records show Smith spent about 10 minutes at Forsythe Park between 4:46 and 4:56 p.m. that day, an FBI cellphone expert testified earlier in the trial.

Smith and Calhoun began to talk again on Oct. 2, the day Henry’s body was discovered near Mile 108.5 of the Seward Highway.

On Facebook Messenger, Calhoun sent Smith a link to a news report about the body being found. At this time, the remains had not been identified as Henry.

Smith responded with “oops.” Smith then said he was “surprised it took so long,” and that snow would have covered the body in a few weeks.

“I was kinda hoping that it would hurry and snow,” Calhoun responded, according to the testimony.


Smith said, “there is something else I must tell.”

He suggested they talk when he’s back from vacation.

When he returned on Oct. 8, police met him at the airport and a nine-hour interrogation followed, in which he admitted to killing Veronica Abouchuk and to finding a body in the back of his truck and then dumping it off the Seward Highway turnout.

On Wednesday, jurors also saw surveillance video from a McDonald’s taken early on the morning of Sept. 6, shortly after cellphone tracking located him at Mile 108.5 of the Seward Highway. Henry’s remains were later found there.

In the video, Smith pays for two Big Macs from the driver’s seat of his black Ford Ranger pickup. In the passenger seat a woman wearing a blue hat and black coat sits, fiddling with something in her hands. Lee, the detective, testified that police were given a possible identity for the woman but were never able to contact her. It wasn’t clear when she’d been picked up or how long she spent with Smith.

On Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys will present closing statements. Then the case will go to the jury.

Smith faces life in prison if convicted.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the process of asking for immunity from prosecution for Ian Calhoun. Calhoun’s attorney Wally Tetlow asserted his client’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the court found the claim valid. Tetlow did not ask the court for immunity on behalf of his client.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.