On Monday, Maine resident Steven Downs was sentenced in Fairbanks court for the murder and sexual assault of Sophie Sergie. He was sentenced to 67 years on the murder conviction and an additional eight year for the sexual assault conviction.
It was in February of this year that Downs was convicted on the charges. The jury deliberated for two days before determining his convictions.
Sergie, a former student at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, was visiting a friend there for the night when the incident occurred. She had come to town to get dental work done and stayed with her friend at UAF’s Bartlett Hall.
At the time of Sergie’s death, Downs was a freshman at the college. He had been interviewed by investigators in the case immediately following the discovery of her remains in the dorm’s second-floor bathroom on April 26th. He denied knowing her.
She had been stuffed in a bathtub at the dorm after being brutally stabbed and shot in the back of her head after being sexually assaulted according to the investigation.
Investigators collected DNA samples during the investigation of her murder, but forensic technology at the time could not determine Sergie’s killer. The case languished for decades.
But, investigators took a fresh look at the case in early 2018, and DNA profiles that were taken in 1993 were sent to Virginia-based Parabon Nanolabs, a genetic genealogy testing lab. It was then that a family match was found. That match led investigators to Downs who was now residing in Maine but was a freshman at UAF at the time of Sergie’s murder. When interviewed, Downs would point the finger at soldiers at Fort Wainwright.
But, additional evidence was uncovered when investigators interviewed a janitor in the building at the time of the homicide that said that Downs was known to have a .22 caliber pistol in his room. The same caliber used to slay Sergie.
The state of Maine Crime Law tested Downs DNA and it came back a positive match to DNA recovered at the crime scene and extradition procedures commenced.
After 26 long years, Downs was extradited from Maine to Alaska to face the charges.
Three years after his extradition, Sergie’s family attained closure of sorts with the sentencing of her long-sought killer.