FAIRBANKS—The man accused of the 1993 sexual assault and killing of Sophie Sergie in a University of Alaska Fairbanks dormitory bathroom will appear in a Maine courtroom Tuesday.
Sergie was a 20-year-old from Pitkas Point visiting Fairbanks for dental work and staying with a friend in the dorms.
Steven Harris Downs, a 44-year-old registered nurse from Auburn, Maine, has a 1 p.m. EST hearing in Lewiston District Court on charges of being a fugitive from justice.
Fugitive from justice charges are standard when an individual is facing criminal charges and extradition to another state — in this case first-degree murder and rape charges in Fairbanks District Court.
"This is what happens when someone is charged in another state and is arrested in a secondary state," Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said in an interview with the Daily News-Miner on Monday.
"It's part of the extradition proceeding," he said. "If he waives extradition he will be returned to Alaska, most likely immediately, and if he chooses to contest extradition, it will just stake a little longer."
Downs is being held without bail in Auburn's Androscoggin County Jail.
Downs, who was identified as a suspect in the decades-old case due to newly submitted DNA, was arrested outside an Auburn business Friday afternoon by the Maine State Police Tactical Team with assistance from Alaska State Troopers and Auburn police.
At the time of Sergie's killing, Downs was an 18-year-old student at UAF living in the same complex where Sergie's body was found. Both Downs and his roommate were interviewed in the initial investigation, and both denied any involvement or knowledge of the incident.
Downs' roommate was reinterviewed in 2010 after investigators learned he had been fired from his UAF security guard position for possessing a firearm in the dormitory. The man said he didn't own a .22-caliber gun but that his roommate, Downs, had an H&R .22-caliber revolver in his dorm room in 1993. A state forensic scientist later told investigators that the marks on the bullet recovered from the crime scene were consistent with having been fired from that type of gun, but could have come from a number of different firearms.
Little is known about Downs’ life before his arrest. Alaska state records show he was issued hunting and fishing licenses in Fairbanks in 1994 and 1995. Downs’ charging documents state he lived in Arizona at some point after leaving Alaska before ultimately returning to his home state of Maine.
Downs recently worked as a nurse in a Maine but was discharged for "a totality of substandard performance,” according to a Maine Board of Nursing disciplinary document.
Maine property tax records show Downs purchased his house in Auburn in 2004 and paid off his mortgage in 2012.
Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcity.