Sophie Sergie memorial

Attendees join arms in remembrance during a healing ceremony and celebration of life in honor of Sophie Sergie Tuesday afternoon, February 19, 2019 on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Steven Downs, of Auburn, Maine was arrested last Friday and charged in Sergie's 1993 murder on campus. Eric Engman/News-Miner

A Maine man charged with the 1993 homicide and sexual assault of 20-year-old college student Sophie Sergie has reportedly been transferred to a New Hampshire prison in preparation for his extradition to Alaska.

Steven Harris Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault. 

Sergie, of Pitkas Point, was found dead in a bloody bathtub in a University of Alaska Fairbanks dormitory bathroom April 26, 1993. Sergie had been sexually assaulted, stabbed multiple times and shot in the back of the head.

Alaska State Troopers investigated the case but were unable to identify a suspect. Troopers caught a break in the case in 2018 after DNA collected from Sergie’s body was matched to that of Downs’ aunt, who had submitted her own DNA to a genealogical database. Investigation showed that Downs had been a student at UAF from 1992-96, and had been living at Bartlett Hall — where Sergie’s body was found — at the time of her 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 waived his objections several weeks ago.

According to Howaniec, Downs was transferred to Strafford County Jail in Dover, New Hampshire, 1 1/2 weeks ago. Howaniec said the jail is larger than the Auburn facility and often used to house federal detainees awaiting extradition. 

Downs’ case will be tried in Fairbanks by Jenna Gruenstein, an attorney with the Office of Special Prosecutions in Anchorage. When reached by phone Wednesday, Gruenstein said she has not been told when Downs will be extradited.

Trooper Sgt. Chuck Inderrieden, head of the department of Judicial Services at the Fairbanks courthouse, said Downs is en route to Alaska and is expected to arrive by the end of this month.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.

 

Correction: Trooper Sgt. Chuck Inderrieden's name was misspelled in earlier versions of this story.

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