The Maine man accused of raping and killing 20-year-old Sophie Sergie in a University of Alaska Fairbanks dormitory bathroom 26 years ago is back on Alaska soil after a lengthy extradition process.
Steven Harris Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault. Downs was arraigned at 2 p.m. today in the Nesbitt Courthouse in Anchorage. He will be arraigned in Fairbanks Superior Court at 2 p.m. Aug. 14.
Sergie's body was found in a bloody bathtub at Bartlett Hall on April 26, 1993. She had been sexually assaulted, stabbed multiple times and shot in the back of the head.
Alaska State Troopers collected DNA evidence and interviewed dormitory residents but were unable to identify a suspect. Sergie's case lingered in the cold case file for years until trooper investigators were able to match DNA left at the scene with that of Downs' aunt, who had voluntarily submitted her DNA to a genealogical website.
Downs was a student at UAF from 1992-96, and had been living in Bartlett Hall at the time of Sergie’s death.
Downs was arrested by the Maine State Police Tactical Team outside an Auburn business Feb. 15 of this year and remanded to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn. His attorney, Jim Howaniec, initially fought extradition efforts but eventually waived his objections. Downs was transferred to Strafford County Jail in Dover, New Hampshire, in early June in preparation for transport to Alaska. The U.S. Marshals Service picked him up at an unknown date and housed Downs at several facilities across the country as he made his way westward on the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System.
Downs landed in Anchorage last night and will be transported to Fairbanks before Aug. 14.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitterv at twitter.com/FDNMcrime.