Downs sentenced to 75 years for murder and assault of Sophie Sergie in Fairbanks

Alaska's News Source Producer Ellie Baty brings you the FastCast daily digital headlines for Sept. 26, 2022.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 5:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A Fairbanks judge handed down sentencing today for the 1993 murder and sexual assault of Alaska Native woman Sophie Sergie.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Temple sentenced Maine resident Steven Downs to 67 years for murder and eight years for sexual assault of the young woman, concluding an investigation and trial that spanned nearly three decades.

A jury found Downs, 48, guilty in February of this year following two days of deliberation.

Sergie was a former student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who was staying with her old roommate at the college dorms while in town for orthodontic work.

Her body was found the next day by janitorial staff in a second-floor bathroom of Bartlett Hall on April 26, 1993.

Downs was a freshman at UAF at the time of Sergie’s disappearance and was one of the people interviewed by investigators immediately following the discovery of Sergie’s remains. DNA evidence that was collected at that time linked Downs to the murder over 19 years later.

Shirley Akelkok, Sergie’s friend with whom she was staying at the time of her death, described the young woman as a responsible student.

“I think she really felt the weight on her shoulders as far as her family and everything that she needed to do. You know at UAF there is basically two groups, you are either a heavy partier or you weren’t, and she wasn’t,” Akelkok said on the stand during the trial’s opening statements back in January of this year.