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Man charged in 1993 cold case to be extradited to Alaska

Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn was arrested and charged on Feb. 15 for the murder and sexual assault of Sophia Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks 26 years ago.

AUBURN, Maine — The Maine man charged in a 1993 murder and sexual assault case out of Alaska has dropped his contest of extradition and will be sent to Alaska to be tried. 

Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn was arrested on Feb. 15, about 3,000 miles away from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was a student in the 1990s.

In February, Alaska State Troopers charged Downs with the murder of 20-year-old Sophia Sergie, a case that has gone unsolved for 26 years.

RELATED: Auburn man charged in 26-year Alaska cold case

Sergie reportedly visited friends at the university on April 24, 1993, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. She was planning to stay with a friend at one of the dormitories on campus that night.

Authorities say Sergie was last seen alive shortly after midnight when she left the dorm room to smoke a cigarette. A janitor later discovered her dead body in a bathtub at Bartlett Hall. 

A following investigation revealed that Sergie had been sexually assaulted and murdered.

Her death went unsolved for nearly three decades, since the DNA collected at the scene originally was not on file. 

RELATED: New details emerge from cold case suspect's past

In April 2018, the "Golden State Killer" was arrested using genetic genealogy, prompting Alaska authorities to revisit the 1993 case and submit the unknown DNA profile.

The results, combined with a follow-up investigation, showed that Downs was 18 years old at the time of the killing and lived in Barlett Hall at UAF. The Alaska State Troopers' Cold Case Unit then worked with Maine authorities to arrest Downs.

RELATED: Maine man charged in 1993 Alaska cold case denied bail, awaiting extradition warrant

Court documents in Alaska show that Downs had no criminal record to lead to these charges.

Prosecutors said earlier, however, that they considered Downs to be a "flight risk", which is why they were anxious to extradite him to Alaska.

In Alaska, there is no life sentence. Downs could face up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty. 

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