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Press Release

Maine resident arraigned in 1993 murder of Sophie Sergie

August 6, 2019

(Anchorage, AK) – 44-year-old Maine resident Steven Harris Downs pleaded not guilty today on charges of Murder in the First Degree and Sexual Assault in the First Degree in the 1993 killing of Sophie Sergie.

Sergie, a resident of Pitkas Point and a former student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was staying with a friend in a residence hall on the UAF campus. Sergie was last seen late in the evening of April 25, 1993 when she left her friend’s dorm room to smoke a cigarette. Custodial staff found Sergie’s body in a women’s bathroom the following afternoon. She had been stabbed multiple times and shot in the head.

According to the charging document, Downs was identified as a possible suspect after investigators submitted DNA evidence taken from Sergie’s body to a lab that uses genealogical databases to identify possible suspects in unsolved criminal cases. The lab compared the DNA sample collected from Sergie’s body to DNA profiles included in a public DNA database and identified Downs’ aunt as a likely relative of the unidentified suspect. Downs attended UAF from 1992 to 1996 and was living in the same building where Sergie was killed at the time of her murder.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson granted Assistant Attorney General Jenna Gruenstein’s bail request for $500,000 cash appearance and $500,000 cash performance bonds along with other standard bail conditions.

Downs has no known convictions in Alaska. He will be transported to Fairbanks for arraignment in the Fourth Judicial District on August 14, 2019.

Sergie’s mother attended the arraignment telephonically.

As with all criminal cases, the charges are only allegations, and a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty.  

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Jenna Gruenstein at jenna.gruenstein@alaska.gov.

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Department Media Contact: Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills at (907) 465-2132 or cori.mills@alaska.gov.