Michael Duxbury: Alaska law enforcement never forgets murdered or missing Native women and children

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Last known photo of Sophie Sergie, taken just hours before her murder.

By MICHAEL DUXBURY

It was with sorrowful satisfaction that I saw the news three days ago of Steven Downs’ conviction and the justice served in the Sophie Sergie cold case in Fairbanks.

I recently wrote to thank Kelly Howell, special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. And she deserves thanks. If it hadn’t been for her realizing our request and being a champion for funding to pursue one of the new approaches to DNA in cold cases, and then asking for additional funding, we would likely not see this develop into a conviction on a 30-year old cold case by the Alaska State Troopers.

It is another example of championing accountability within a justice system that, while it can’t resolve the pain of unspeakable loss, it can pursue justice and some sort of closure on behalf of the victims, their families, and the community.

The conviction of Steven Downs takes down the media-driven narrative that there is any level of ambivalence toward Alaska’s missing and murdered Native women and children.

It has been my experience that AST is not ambivalent about the victims of crime, and never has been. That includes cases of Native missing and/or murdered women. Whenever humanly possible, these cases are pursued.

As the former deputy commissioner and former commander of the Investigative Unit at Alaska State Troopers, I know the Cold Case Unit’s supervisor and Investigator Randy McPherron was relentless in the pursuit of justice for victims. He took the major initial steps in revitalizing the Sophie Sergie cold case homicide.

Investigator McPherron brought the idea of paying for the new DNA investigative tools to me when I was captain commander of Investigations.

McPherron had grit. He took an almost completely gutted Cold Case Section (down to one person due to budget cuts) and re-engage a case that had seen multiple investigators come and go over nearly three decades, and turn it into a unit with the prowess to pursue the DNA. It was his idea about how to effectively serve Alaska and Alaskans according to his oath as efficiently as possible, even in lean budgetary times.

His request of me to approach Howell for funds for this new DNA process turned out to be the best money I ever asked for — and Howell recognized it was the correct path right away.

Investigator McPherron spearheaded a process that rekindled the work of prior investigators and helped shatter the media-manufactured misconception about ambivalence toward missing and murdered Native women and children in Alaska. These are the lives of our neighbors mothers, sisters, aunts, and grand mothers. In AST I knew no one who was ambivalent about these cases.

When Commissioner Amanda Price arrived, on McPherron’s urging I asked she approve a request for more funds for more genetic work on similar cold cases.

I am proud of AST that they are able to prove yet again that the Troopers have never taken the murder of Native women and children lightly.

Even training to recognize steps for prevention were part of DPS procedures, through programs like Katie Tepas’ training of troopers, police, and village public safety officers. The village public safety officers have been part of the efforts to stem these tragedies and, while AST is not perfect, the division is always learning, always trying to improve.

Learning to recognize we can never stop looking for ways to interdict the violence, and that we must be committed in our pursuit of intimate partner and domestic violence crimes have been hallmarks of the Department of Public Safety and Alaska State Troopers.

Another example of how far the Troopers are willing to go to solve murders of indigenous females was evident in the Ashley Barr abduction and homicide case.

The Troopers were “all hands on deck,” asking all law enforcement partners for help. Transportation cost alone was over $200,000 for search dogs, personnel, and equipment to get into Kotzebue, an enormous sum for the department, but needed to investigate the death of little Ashley.

Human capital devastation is a clinical description of the impact to those directly involved as victims, the family, and community, and also members of search teams, and responders, and investigators. The human costs and spending are both reasons to engage in preventative efforts. The senseless loss of precious lives is what AST seeks to prevent in their effort to train Troopers, police officers, and VPSOs throughout the state.

As has been traditional for AST, the Ashley Barr case and the Sophie Sergie case garnered the support of the senior leadership. That resulted sending the lieutenant to help and be the face of the investigations, allowing investigators to spend uninterrupted time on the case. In the Ashley Barr case, I went to Kotzebue as the captain commander to demonstrate our acknowledgement of the case’s importance within the Native community.

With programs like the Violence Against Women Act and the Commissioner’s office Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, AST has pursued justice-driven accountability for all of Alaska’s victims of violent crime. Diane Casto, the director of CDVSA, is a tireless advocate for these victims.

This recent court conviction of Downs is due to AST’s complete dedication of many, such as Major David Hanson, investigators like McPherron, other troopers, budget, support from Howell, and original investigators.

However, what the public tends to forget is that behind the names or programs most known in association with an investigation, there is a network of selfless public servants who are never recognized — clerks, technicians, computer experts, and those who answer the phones.

AST can point to these recent accomplishments in high-profile cases with bittersweet sorrow and compassion for the victims and their families, and yet with humble pride, as these professionals continue on with their efforts in so many more cases that must be solved.

I hope the Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office will consider an award for Investigator McPherron, and for all DPS members. It’s important that they know their contributions to justice are recognized.

Again, congratulations to the many Alaska State Troopers, past and present, who were part of this effort and accomplishment. And congratulations and thanks to the team in the District Attorneys’ Offices who brought these cases to trial.

Michael Duxbury is a retired deputy commissioner of Public Safety and affiliated with UAA’s Arctic Domain Awareness Center as an executive counselor.

51 COMMENTS

  1. So where is the conviction for the brutal slaughter of Lanycha Zimmer in 2019? I think she’s been forgotten by all but those who knew her.

    • Well, Glenn. Since you’re taking an avid interest in this, I suggest you read the article again and then ask yourself the question “where did the crime v. Lanycha occur?”

      It’s an APD case, not AST…

    • If you remotely understood how Alaska collects and reports both SA and DV statistics v. most states you’d have a clearer understanding in how “AK leads the nation.:

      I’m not saying that AK doesn’t have an issue with those, I am saying that the oft cited statistics are misleading and that many other states significantly under-report.

      We have entrenched politico law enforcement and social workers who benefit from a higher statistical display (budgetary and authority rewards) whereas most of Outside has political law enforcement (elected DAs, judges, and sheriffs) and they often benefit from statistics showing otherwise.

      Again, AK does have a problem, but it’s not so significantly higher than the statisticians would have you believe.

      • How much of the violence is actually out in the Bush? Native men violent against Native women? I’d like to see the statistical data on that and compare it to the urbanized areas of Alaska. I think you’ll find that it’s highly disproportionate and works to make the entire state of Alaska look like a violent place compared to a state by state basis.

        • The statistics are available, or at least is usually is every year in DPS’s annual report. You’d be surprised.

          Yes, it is dispoprotionately higher in the Bush, and due to many factors, though reports and arrests are made, successful prosecution is challenging. Oftentimes the communities rally around the accused, and I mean by much more than just engaging an attorney.

          What the statistics won’t show is how much JBER, Ft. Wainright, and Eielson AFB contribute to the incidents of sexual abuse of minors; especially FTWW.

          Another thing to remember, DV is not necessarily a male assaulting female crime, neither is sexual abuse. Welcome to modernity; it’s as likely to be male on male, female on male, female on female.

          There are now almost as many women arrested for domestic violence assaults as men. I expect that women will displace men as primary offenders as the younger generations enter law enforcement.

      • This is nonsense, the percentage of abused Native girls AND boys is astronomical.
        Yes, the situation is being exploited by political law enforcement, courts, social workers and social arms of the Native Corporations and tribal governments, for grants, but the real problem is under reported as well as the downstream dysfunction, substance abuse and violence resulting from this.

        • You haven’t seen corrupt until you’ve walked the halls of a native corporation. They do not serve their shareholders well.

          • ……Rabbl, but a few of them try to service their shareholders. Uhm, Byron Mallott comes to mind. What is it about some Native elders and juvies?

  2. Mr. Duxbury:

    Unfortunately, the Sophie Sergie story doesn’t end with the conviction of Steven Downs. I highly doubt Mr. Downs is guilty of rape, or of murder. On appeal, he should claim ” ineffective counsel” as a basis for a new trial. And here’s why:

    1. Juries love DNA evidence and that was what got Downs convicted. But his attorney didn’t raise the issue of the brutality of the crime. This was an absolute crime of hate, passion, and anger. The killer was moved to “punish” Sophie, for only a reason the true killer knows. Mr. Downs did not have time to connect any kind of relationship with Sergie, or to build up the kind of anger and hate that the killer had for Sophie.

    2. A more likely scenario is that Downs had consensual sex with Sergie hours before, or maybe a day before, her murder. That would explain the DNA of Downs in Sergie’s body.

    3. The final manner of death was a gunshot by a .22 caliber to the back of her head. Trappers who trap wild animals in Alaska use this method to put the animal to death. It’s a cold, calculated way to end the life of a struggling creature.

    4. The trial’s autopsy report revealed no inflammation or bruising of Sophie’s vagina, an indication that there was no brutal rape. Sex was most likely concensual.

    5. Mr. Downs was caught lying to investigators and he did not take the stand to clarify to jurors that he only had consensual sex with her. However, if he revealed that he had sex with Sophie, he would automatically come under scrutiny as the killer. A conviction would be likely based on this admission.

    6. Downs was 18 at the time, with no prior records of assault or proclivity evidence of violence. In fact, Downs remained at UAF for three more years after the murder and graduated from that campus. A real killer would have left the area and fled far away. Downs did not.

    7. There are some psychological aspects about Mr. Down’s life during the past 30 years (weight gain and becoming a nurse) that may be foretelling, but not indicative of being a brutal killer trying to hide his past.

    In summation, I believe Downs is innocent of the brutal assault and murder. A more likely scenario is that Downs had sexual relations with Sergie at some point. The real killer may have been from out of town and staying with friends at Bartlett Hall. The real killer may have known Sophie from out of town, or from the Native community. The real killer was angry at Sophie for not giving him what he wanted, or for what she had submitted to in the way of consensual sex with another (Downs). This is my opinion.
    I don’t think 18-year old Downs could have built up the anger over a Native woman he did not know to brutally kill her. The jury convicted the wrong person. Why Down’s attorney didn’t explain this to the jury is a mystery. An innocent man is now going to go to prison for the rest of his life, while the real killer sits out there, somewhere.

    • Good analysis. Troopers were under huge pressure to solve this case, especially in light of the political rumblings to bring attention about physical harm done to Native women. If a White man could be responsible, even more political energy by the leftist woke crowd would be calculated This was a “politically correct” conviction.

    • Well, Marco…just a few quick notes for you…

      Steven Downs had a highly effective defense. If you actually followed this case and the pleadings starting in Maine all the way to closing arguments, you’ll see that his team did a magnificent job. Downs’ had/has an excellent attorney. Pleas to overturn due to ineffective defense rarely succeed, and Downs’ team fulfilled their oath of vigorous defense. If I were in Maine and accused of a heinous crime, he’d be at the top of the list as my defense attorney.

      His attorney did everything that could be expected and did it well. He filed motions, he challenged statements, tried to get evidence tossed, even got “alternative” suspects into the record, he fought tooth and nail for his client. When it was all done, he did what nearly every good defense attorney does when he’s lost his motions…he attacked the investigation like a rabid dog.

      When your client is guilty, that is your only hope, that you can make the investigators look incompetent or force the prosecution into an error.

      I don’t know where or how you acquired your “expertise” regarding the nature of the criminal mind, or of criminal acts, or how autopsy reports get written, but it’s obviously not from actually working as an LEO Investigator or detective. You’d be amazed learning what an 18yoa is capable of. A monstrous act early in life doesn’t necessarily create a monster for life.

      There are two huge errors in your thinking, both based upon your mistake of viewing the event “through your own eyes.”

      One, sometimes murderers, no actually usually, a murderer does want to get caught. Feels guilt, yes. Initially it happens frequently. There’s a difference between that and having the courage to overcome the fear of turning yourself in. Sometimes they just linger and wait to be in that room…at first.

      People react differently to different events and stimuli. There is no one way to behave.

      Consensual sex? No. How many SART exam reports and autopsy reports have you read? Pretty sure I know that answer.

      Rape isn’t about hate, it’s not about sex, it’s about demonstrating power…murder is also almost never about hate and often it’s not even about anger.

      If you want to actually Know something, go Do something. Go work as an LEO, go work as an advocate, go become a SANE, go become an attorney, do, don’t just watch or memorize.

      You won’t pick up knowledge off YT or the Internet.

      • Rabbl, what makes you think Down’s attorney thought Downs was guilty? That’s a rather crude, half-wit assumption you posted. Attack the investigators and the police? Attack them for what? They were doing their job. The DNA is proof positive that Downs was in her. If anything, Marco has opened the door with further speculation. What was Downs motive? An 18-year old freshman in a dorm with 500 other students? And he stays in the same dorm for three more years after the murder? Downs is established as a resident in that dorm. He would kill someone down the hall from where he lives? That dorm is more or less open to squatters and visitors from the Bush. I’ve changed my mind based on Marco’s comment. There is more to this murder than was presented in the courtroom. Maybe Downs did have consensual sex with the Native girl, who was just visiting for a few days. Maybe the real murderer got away. Something is not adding up.
        .
        What does Mr. Duxbury have to say here?

      • Thanks, Rabbl for addressing some points I raised. I did watch a fair amount of Down’s trial on YouTube. I stand by most of my assertions. Though Down’s attorney displayed the basic approaches of defense counsel …….. motions, attempting to disqualify experts, objecting etc.., he failed to connect with the jury. I blame some of this on his lack of local knowledge and the local culture. It’s hard to attack and counter DNA evidence. Why didn’t he pursue more vigorously the consensual sex defense? Sergie was in Bartlett Hall starting Friday night. The Native youngsters come into town from the Bush looking for sex, drugs and booze. Sophie had her friend’s dorm room almost to herself. She and Down’s could easily have hooked-up over the weekend.
        .
        The trial judge also allowed the defense to bring up the issue of three other men who could have been potential suspects. Mr. Moto’s testimony (from another Bush village) seemed suspicious. And, the sister of another defense suspect stated that her brother told her HE killed Sophie. An interesting admission to his sister.
        .
        Downs should have cracked during the AST interrogation in Maine, if he was guilty. (The Golden State Killer finally cracked). I listened to the tape of Down’s interrogators and I wasn’t impressed at all. Downs apparently lied about owning a gun. But a guy who is reckoning with an old case which involves his DNA trail, and is innocent, may not want to implicate himself in a manner that pins him down by way of a weak alibai.
        That would be a tough position for Downs, to admit he had sex with Sophie on the weekend in question, and then try to explain that he didn’t killer her.
        .
        What would Down’s motive be? He already had a girlfriend he was having sex with. He was finishing the school year and getting ready for finals like all the other students and legitimate dorm residents (Sophie was not a legitimate resident).
        And he came back to UAF for three more years. There are no records of him getting into trouble at UAF. This case has a distinct disconnect to it.
        .
        The Troopers saw an opportunity to close this case with their Cold Case unit. DNA evidence was their stock in trade for a conviction. This was not a completely investigated case.
        .
        IMHO, here’s what I believe really happened:
        Downs, and maybe others, hooked-up with Sergie over the weekend, doing what college kids do, especially at the end of the school year. Sergie was just hanging out at Bartlett Hall, with nothing to do. She either bumped into one or more Native males, or other males who were not dorm residents, and countered their advances. That’s when she was killed. Transients carry guns too. Native male transients carry guns. The utter brutality of this crime, demonstrates that she also might have known her killer, who I believe is still at large and probably living in the Bush.
        .
        Again, Mr. Duxbury would be welcomed to opine here and give us more detail about his article. Thank you.

      • Rabbl……how could Steven Downs defense counsel be highly effective? He got his client stiffed with a 99-year jail sentence. You call that “highly effective?”
        Downs is innocent. Like the other commenters asked, what’s Downs motive to this brutal attack? There wasn’t one. Downs may have gotten some stray dormitory tail, but he didn’t stick her with a knife and place a bullet in her brain. That was done by a jealous boyfriend from out of town.

        • Attorneys have to not just abide by the law, they also have to abide by the rules of court, and their canon of ethics.

          That alone should answer your question regarding his attorney’s effectiveness.

          There was another murder trial in Fairbanks just recently. I hope that if justice is something you’re interested in, you go watch some trials.

          Food for thought, a hypothetical , a lesson in criminal law…if Joe and Bob go to rob a bank and during that robbery Bob shoots and kills someone. Bob makes his getaway and Joe gets caught.

          Because Joe was part of the core transaction which resulted in a murder, Joe gets charged with murder. That’s not just an Alaskan thing, that’s nationwide.

          Read generously into that.

          • Joe pleads not guilty. He was not a willing accomplice. He was coerced and threatened by Bob, and Bob stated to Joe, “I will kill your entire family if you don’t help me rob the bank.” (See Patty Hearst, 1975).

    • I suppose you would have us believe that it’s just coincidence that Sophie wound up shot dead within minutes of Downs allegedly having “consensual” sex (that had clear signs of rape to anyone who bothered to read the autopsy). Or that Downs was not accounted for during the period when Sophie went missing and was murdered? And no, the killer wouldn’t necessarily flee. Many serial killers remain in the same area where their murders took place for years afterward. Earlier reporting also said that Downs had numerous complaints for harassment from female coworkers while he was working as a nurse. If your scenario was at all plausible, then Downs would have insisted on taking the stand. But he didn’t, because he knew he would be faced with questions he wouldn’t be able to answer. No attorney could possibly have spun this in his favor. Downs is guilty as all get out.

      • Kelly……..now you have Downs as a serial killer too? How many others did he kill in Bartlett Hall? The UAF? Alaska?
        Your theory is off the chart. If Downs was rampantly killing, I wish he would have paid a visit to the History Department. Or, the Administration castle on the West Ridge.

  3. While congratulations for AST’s hard work are in order, there is more to do…I can suggest a unsolved murder in Haines..In the 1982 murder of Eileen Wafer of Haines, according to law enforcement press releases and media reporting a very good DNA sample was left at the scene.

  4. The sad part is UAF covered up the murder so they wouldn’t get sued. They weren’t interested in justice, they were more concerned with covering their ass. They knew he had a gun and didn’t even look at it – a conscious choice. I know, I was there. I also witnesses UAF police cover up an assault by a student employee for lack of evidence. A five in gash in the head and 20 stitches wasn’t enough?? UAF police are there to protect the university first, everything else is second. Anyone saying otherwise is a liar.

    • The “cover-up” by UAF didn’t work well, Jule. The University settled for $$$millions with Sergie family. Sergies are extremely wealthy off this murder.

  5. It is preposterous that this gentleman leaves out the fact that the FBI swarmed into Kotzebue Alaska, in response to Ashley Barr being missing and solved her case which sadly the AST wasn’t successful at finding her before in time to PREVENT her ultimate devastating demise.

    30 years later, he wants a ‘gold star’ be given to the AST for the one cold case?

    What about acknowledging the 30 years of NOTHING that the family and friends of Sophie Sergie have suffered?

    What about the 30 years of Sophie Sergie, while likely struggling to ‘rest in peace’, while this antiquated system overlooked her as a valued human, equal to any other human?

    Alaska Native missing and murdered humans are not less than a dog.

    The first 48 hours are supposedly the most important moments in a missing person case.

    So why is it that families are told they have to wait 72 hours before reporting a loved one missing?

    One thing about time, is that everyone is accountable while that clock is ticking.

    And it is always ticking.

    So I do not apologize for how this guest contributer makes me throw up and sadly reaffirms the ongoing incestuous ‘pat each other on the back for a job not done’ mentality that is the absolute problem.

    If it helps, I can create a patch or medal to present in a ceremony to these officers. If that is what motivates law enforcement to do their jobs better than what they are known for right now.

    However, I doubt they would like the insignia engraved on the ‘gold stars’ I present to them.

    And believe me, those words will be direct from the families that pleaded and begged for help.

    One thing about Alaska Native history, is that it is orally passed down from generation to generation.

    I bet the sound of their voices will ring loudly in the minds and hearts of officers who remember when reading those precious words, which become forever written into our collective history.

    • Most assaults on Native women are committed by Native men. Go search the data before you commit to a narrative.

    • Shame requires knowledge.

      There is NO 72-hour requirement. Thers is NO 48, 24, 12, or even ten minute requirement to report someone missing.

      I would say much to you in this forum or any, but Proverbs reminds me to not be near fools or evildoers, nor to engage in conversation with them.

    • The Trooper Union and DAs love to pat each other on the back, and are impervious to the massive distrust they have created through incompetence and the “high” that comes with absolute power. They grade their own work and then reward themselves as though it has any relevant meaning whatsoever. The fact is the state government agency framework has long been imported from the inherently racist west coast based lily white ruling elites, for whom Alaska Natives are simply exploited for funding, knowing that there is no serious blowback due to a cultural aversion to conflict with incompetent leadership. Sophie’s case was treated as so many others, often missing persons cases, and now decades later, with a conviction, dubious yes, but a jury conviction nonetheless, the optics are being manipulated in an attempt to change the reality of official indifference spanning decades.
      We are several generations deep from the time Native youth was placed in boarding schools to be “educated” by our intellectual “betters” who were given free reign to sexually abuse many of these children without consequences. Those educators were also patted on the back for the “great” job they were doing for Native youth, and the long term downstream consequences are immense.
      If protecting the persons of our youth were an actual priority for the public safety and court system, why are alleged rape incidents not followed up with mandated protocols immediately and consistently? Why are entrenched predators in tiny communities free to continue in their abusive behavior indefinitely? Why are missing persons cases treated so lightly?

  6. The Fairbanks paper covered the trial well, or as best as the judge would let them. As did NPR. The lack of solid evidence connecting Downs to the murder was surprising. No gun, no knife, no testimony from friends he was a violent person. The only real evidence was Downs DNA inside the victim. While he is likely guilty,it doesn’t seem like the “reasonable doubt” standard was met.

    • She was shot with a 22L and he had a 22L. The UAF police knew it, but ignored it and didn’t test for a bullet for a match. They were more concerned with protecting UAF from getting sued by the Sergie family. He likely doesn’t have the 22L anymore to test.

    • One more thing that often confuses folks. “Reasonable doubt” is not the same as “beyond any doubt.”

      Sit in a courtroom and listen to jury instructions. You may hear a good judge explain the difference during those. During closing arguments you may hear a defense attorney try ro equate them.

      There is never a “perfect case” against anyone. I’ve seen trials where the jury heard recordings of defendants bragging about the accused acts in detail, where the jury was presented several pieces of good physical evidence and many pieces of circumstantial evidence, and testimony from a co-conspirator, and they still deliberate for three or four days.

      The case v. Downs was based on one very good piece of physical evidence and a mountain of circumstantial evidence.

      The jury is instructed to apply their own sense to the matter but only consider the evidence presented…believe it or not, juries do a great job whether conviction, acquittal, or hung.

      Go into a room of twelve disparate people and try to get them to agree on any one thing, it’s alot harder than you think.

  7. Mr. Duxbury’s article perfectly illustrates the disconnect and pathetic attempt for the state public safety union to pretend to be relevant concerning public “safety” for Alaska Natives.
    The fact is, Alaska Natives are simply valued and counted for grant perpetuation purposes to continually expand funding for an agency that could care less about the safety and well being of its’ massive minority community. In general, Native Corporations and “sovereign” government(s) leaders work hand in glove for the never ending “need” for funding purposes, there is no strategy to “solve” the sexual abuse and violence against women and children in our state. The larger the “crisis” the more money is thrown at it, but there is no basis of fact in the narrative that the Troopers or Native leaders actually are concerned for the victims as human beings.
    Pointing to “solving” a cold case 30 some years old as a success story is pathetic. The jury has decided, unsurprisingly in line with what the DA wanted. As is usual, a scalp was dramatically thrown to the public, the actual murderer may or may not be the person that is now doing the time. This is as old as the Roman Empire wherein bread and circuses appeased the public while their society disintegrated.
    Sexual abuse of Native youth is a massive problem, with a cultural abhorrence in being critical of elders resulting in many perpetrators remaining in leadership positions despite being predators. Even after death, no one will speak out, the pretense is carried forward over the generations.
    If the Troopers were seriously concerned, the protocols for allegations of rape would be followed systematically instead of often ignored in rural areas. Notice that rural Trooper Posts are not censured for this incompetent behavior of failing to follow protocols despite such a feigned heart wrenching pretense at concern and how large these problems are to anyone remotely connected to rural Alaska knows. Arresting certain connected persons creates issues which could lead to uncomfortable questions. The goal is top down governance, and an unstable and unsafe community is far easier to manipulate and control while exploiting the financial rewards, than a stable and safe community. The villages always deteriorate over time, no matter how many “resources” and money is dedicated towards solving problems. Instead of productive industries, Alaska is becoming more entrenched and focused in ongoing government manufactured and sustained social dysfunction industries. The same state worker incompetence is rewarded, repeated and entrenched, and complete garbage and irrelevant results are highlighted as “successes”.
    As it is, the Troopers and OCS are completely corrupt and dysfunctional, and those least able to defend themselves take the blame and punishment when there is a demand for an alleged culprit’s “scalp” due to the consequences of events of abuse and/or violence which always result from sex crimes.
    Mr. Duxbury, spare those of us who are heartbroken and must constantly deal with the long term effects and suffering of family members who have suffered from sexual abuse and violence against their persons from your unadulterated bovine feces propaganda piece. The Troopers, OCS, DA Offices and Native leadership have consolidated power and are doing extremely well financially with the system created. Enjoy your retirement, and pat your fellow state union workers on each other’s backs to a system well oiled, but do not pretend that it has anything to do with a concern for justice, safety and healthy Native communities.

    • I think you went over the line here, Mr. Simpson, but the Troopers are far from perfect. One thing that bothers me about this case is the fact that Trooper Stogsdill previously stated that this murder most likely involved “two killers.”
      What’s his evidence of that? Does that mean that Downs had an accomplice? Or does it mean that Down’s DNA was handy and let’s just put “somebody” away and get this politically charged murder case off of our unsolved file?

      • Unless your personally dealing with the combined and accumulated generational effects of the violence, substance abuse, wrongful incarceration through victim blaming and dysfunction suffered commencing with your great-grandparents, through your grandparents, children and grandchildren due to the aloof and paternalistic system of outside Whites imposed on your family and culture, you have no reference to determine and quantify an imaginary “line” for me to cross.
        In fact, my comments are very restrained out of respect to Must Read. The Alaska Court system, OCS, State Troopers and current Native leadership (in general) are the culmination of a system which tolerates the mass sexual abuse of Native Youth, exploiting the financial benefits of grants and endless funding using the massive issue to justify without solving this.
        The ineptitude and outright corruption is blatantly out in the open, with no accounting or consequences for career “experts” whose careers, financial remuneration and comfortable retirement benefits are the priority.
        It would be much easier to give into the extreme pain of, for example, having one of your sons have his brains blown out, followed by the dismissive and prejudicial attitude of the police, courts and Alaska liberal White run media due to the fact your son is viewed as nothing but another half breed, without regard to who he was as a young man with a large, warm heart and all the selfless work he did for elders in the community.
        You are unlikely to have any idea how difficult it is to deal with this and modify “comments” in an effort to educate and point out to the public just how rotten our ruling elites are in this state, for the long term goal of effectuating a society which might someday be safer for my grandchildren, that my son’s life ended abruptly is not wasted.
        The double edged sword is the overriding cultural passiveness of Alaska Natives, which has avoided turning Alaska into a radicalized social environment with race based violence common as many down states have become. In the meantime the unbalance continues, and nauseating self serving “attaboy” articles as Mr. Duxbury’s surface to perpetuate the pretense from the Troopers.

        • @Mr. Simpson,
          I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your son. I’m sure that Suzanne appreciates your control of emotions through your writing. Your point got across.
          When is Mr. Duxbury going to come back here and address some of these questions and issues raised? He has an obligation to do this, and as courtesy, to the readership of Must Read Alaska. I too would like to hear what the he thinks was the motive of Steven Downs in the killing of Sophie Sergie.

      • Nope. It’s called, you have probable cause to make an arrest and there is sufficient evidence that you (as a DA) are likely to get a conviction.

        I agree with Jim’s assessment regarding more than one assailant. However…

        If two people or more offenders are party to a crime, they are both (or all) accountable for the offenses of the crime.

        So…are you suggesting that because Jim Stogsdill believes that more than one was involved that you don’t prosecute the one you have in custody because others are out there?

        • Rabbl:
          That hypothetical goes back to the original investigation and interrogation of Downs. If Stogsdill theorized that two individuals were culpable, then that should have been borne out during the interrogation of Downs. That goes to the skill of the interrogator. Here, that theory did not play out. The AST focused on Down alone and tried to get a confession. Downs would have none of that.
          The interrogators should have given Downs more breathing room and asked who the accomplice was who pulled the trigger on Sophie. That may have yielded more information based on Stogsdill’s two person theory. Personally, I don’t even believe Downs was in on the kill. I believe it was more likely that Native transients were involved. That dorm was not secured from transients coming and going. I don’t believe Downs had the true motive to actually kill her.

  8. Rabbl: Really? Elude to a andom chapter in Psalms (not even a specific citation) to call me a fool and evil because you personally do not like what I have to say?

    Who proclaimed you to be the Judge over good and evil?

    How you swiftly turn to weaponizing and manipulating the Biblical word is actually a real-time demonstration that the “missionary-mindset” is STILL actively trying to wield its self-proclamed righteousness over me and those like me.

    But, here is a secret. Share it widely…

    You have zero power over me to make me feel bad.

    You have zero influence over me with your weak, desperate, and meager attempt to make me feel less than you.

    Or that my world view is less than yours.

    Look in the mirror at the reflection of yourself as you use a vague referral to the book of Psalms to blanketedly decide and proclaim I was the fool.

    • Great remark, Trudy. Rabbl seems to think he has some superior intellect, but he actually sounds ignorant and full of himself. I wouldn’t want this character to be a juror in my trial, much less an attorney representing me. Fools are borne out everytime they look at themselves in the mirror.

  9. Lakeshore,

    I am the data. I am an Alaska Native woman born and raised in rural Alaska.

    How does your argument that “most assaults on Native women are by Native men” alleviate your sense of care?

    Your statement illustrates a mentality that absolutely has its fair share in perpetuating this problem.

    • Trudy,
      I don’t base my opinion or statement on how I feel, or on consideration of how it may offend the Native community. I base it on facts and statistics. It’s true, and you know it to be true.

  10. “The Sergies are very wealthy off this murder”.

    This may be the most disrespectful and disgusting statement against an Alaska Native family who suffered an irreparable loss that I’ve ever laid my eyes across.

    So let’s do this quick experiment.

    If Sophie Sergie was actually Sophie Begich or Sophie Knowles.

    Would Julie still say,

    “The Begich family got very wealthy off this murder”?

    “The Knowles family got very wealthy off this murder.”

    What if her name was actually Sophie Hamilton?

    Would the statement still be ok when you read it?

    “The Mark Hamilton Family got very wealthy off this murder?”

    Or, for the sake of exploring societal tolerances…

    Could it be in the realm of probability that IF Sophie was actually a ‘Begich, Knowles or Hamilton’, THEN this case would have been solved 30 years ago?

    • It’s a fact. The Sergies got over $10 million in settlement with the University. A very hushed settlement. I’d like to know what Mark Hamilton did while he was UA President to secure the dorms, especially upper campus, from disallowing transients and people from the Bush coming into Fairbanks and taking up temporary residency in Bartlett Hall. It seems that an Army general night know something about keeping a dorm secured so rapists and murderers don’t freely roam.

  11. Just a quick follow on note, I type these on my phone. There are errors in my comments I see now.

    Psalms should have been Proverbs, Julie is the incorrect name that I was referring to, as is Lakeshore. Lol.

    There are other corrections and grammatical issues that I am aware of, I hope those deteriorate from my core message.

    Thank you.

  12. Statstics are what they are in every race, gender, geographic area, etc.

    So what are you saying specifically about this particular statistic?

    You said, before I jump on a narrative, I should research the data.

    And went to mention- along the lines of -most native crimes are carried out by other natives.

    I am missing the point and purpose of that statement.

    Why should this statistic of “native on native crime” effect my narrative?

    Are you saying that because it is natives killing and murdering native women and children, that it is an “internal racial, i.e. AK Native issue”?

    It sounds like you are eluding to a narrative that comes across as:

    The rest of American Society does not need to be bothered with Missing and Murdered Alaska Native Women and Children.

    I want to understand what you are saying.

    Because I am sure I must have misunderstood your worldview here.

    • Trudy,
      I don’t believe insensitivity to Native culture is the issue here. The issue is:
      .
      Raw data supports raw facts, and the facts don’t disappear because of a worldview about how a group is offended by the facts. Factual manipulation only exacerbates the problem. You sound very intelligent. Violence in Native communities is being addressed, finally, not as a disparate issue, but rather as a recognizable sub-issue that has it’s own set of distinct causes. While the Steven Downs case should not be further politicized, there seems to be some interesting questions raised by a few posters here that Col. Duxbury prefers to avoid.

  13. Somebody’s doghouse got peed in. In response, a sad attempt to show intellectual superiority and moral authority over others.

  14. And to be very clear, when it comes down to it, I don’t care if a person is black, white, or purple for that matter that gets convicted of murder.

    What matters is that investigations are conducted right away and thoroughly.

    There is so much speculation and weight given to an act of sex in this conviction, in my opinion.

    Universities covering up crimes on campus’ is not unique to this situation.

    It has been a blatant standard operating procedure across the U.S.

  15. Lou,

    Thank you. I appreciate your response. I have a better understanding, of at least your point of view.

    I am acutely aware of the raw data; firsthand. From my own life experience.

    I need to break down the wall of indifference that comes from numbers, percentages, charts and graphs.

    I am who you refer to as the raw data.

    For every number, percentage, chart, graph, there are actual people.

    I’ve had a career in rattlingly off these horrible statistics all over the U.S. and beyond to garner the attention from those who hold the power to help create a momentum of change.

    It was easier for me to speak about these horrific issues when I transformed my friends, family and others into mere mathematical factors.

    I get it.

    It is horrific to assign a value to a mathematical factor that is a person who had children, sisters and brothers, friends, hopes and dreams.

    Sometimes its easier to apply value to a mathematical factor that assigns sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, etc. to explain away the actual horror.

    But that takes the focus off the actual problem, and the actual problem continues to be the person who is the murderer and predator.

    I don’t care what race, gender, age, or who a predator thinks they are – even if it is because of their families ‘place’ in our communities.

    We need to erridicate this cancer in and outside of our collective communities.

    Because there is no one that I would ever bestow the respect of calling my elder…

    …Not someone who is and has been protected to become an untouchable predator, as was discussed in this thread.

    That is my worldview on Alaska Native missing and murdered women and children.

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