New Testing Triggers Arrest in Horrific Cold Case

Registered nurse Steven Downs, 44, is accused of killing Sophie Sergie
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2019 5:00 PM CST
Arrest Made in Numbing 25-Year-Old Cold Case
Steven Downs, 44.   (Androscoggin County Jail)

New DNA testing has led to an arrest in the horrifying 1993 rape and murder of a young Alaska woman, Fox News reports. Alaska State Troopers announced the arrest Friday of Steven Downs, 44, a registered nurse now living in Maine, in the case of Sophie Sergie, who was only 20 when she was raped, stabbed, and shot in the head while visiting friends at University of Alaska Fairbanks campus—a crime troopers and residents were unable to forget. "For more than 20 years, AST continued to receive info about Sophie's murder," says Colonel Barry Wilson, head of the Alaska State Troopers. "Each tip generated a response by members of the cold case unit hoping to break the case."

Only by revisiting the case in 2018 did detectives catch a break. They submitted a DNA profile from the crime scene to a genealogy testing website, got a match to a likely suspect, and confirmed it through further testing at the Maine State Crime Lab, KTUU reports. What's more, the charging document says Downs was an 18-year-old UAF student living in the same dorm where Sophie Sergie was raped and murdered; his roommate at the time told authorities Downs had a .22 handgun, the same caliber used to kill Sergie. But Downs didn't confess: "I remember the pictures, it's terrible, poor girl," he told investigators, per the Anchorage Daily News. Downs has been extradited to Alaska and has no court date so far. (This DNA method was used to catch the Golden State Killer suspect.)

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