On Feb 15, 2019 Alaska State Troopers made an arrest in the 1993 murder of Sophie Sergie.
“Steven H. Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder in the death of 20-year-old Sergie, the state troopers said in a news conference in Anchorage Friday. Downs was employed as a nurse in Maine”
On April 26, 1993, around 2pm, Sophie Sergie (20) was found dead by a janitor. Her body was in a bathtub in the second floor women’s restroom of Bartlett Hall, University of Alaska. She was raped and killed. The cause of death: a gunshot wound. The murder weapon was never found.
Authorities did recover DNA but never found a match until they applied the same method to find the Golden State Killer: familial genetic DNA.
Downs was 18 years old when Sophie was murdered. He attended UAF from 1992-1996, he lived in Bartlett Hall, and his roommate confirmed to police Downs had a .22-caliber handgun in their room. That caliber was used to kill Sophie.
Later Downs moved to Arizona and then to Maine where he worked as a nurse. He has no previous arrests. Downs will be extradited to Alaska to face a grand jury.
Interesting note: “A reprimand appearing on Downs’ Maine nursing license references “unprofessional conduct” on multiple occasions. On one occasion in 2016, he reportedly made comments to a coworker that “made that individual uncomfortable.” Another coworker made a similar complaint a few months later, according to the warning consent agreement. He was required to take a training course called “Professional Boundaries in Nursing,” the warning claims.”
Sophie studied marine biology. She was not attending classes the spring she died.
Sophie led a calm life. No risk behaviour. She had decided to take a year off.
Sophie worked as a teacher’s assistant at the Pitkas Point School, had flown into Fairbanks for a dental appointment and was supposed to fly home to Pitkas Point afterwards. In Fairbanks, she was staying in the Bartlett Hall dorm room of one of her best friends from back home, Shirley Wasuli.
More details will be posted as they become available.
Rest in peace, Sophie Sergie.