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Witnesses recall sounds they heard the night of Sophie Sergie’s murder

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:12 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Several women testified in court Wednesday, describing the sounds they heard in the women’s bathroom during the early hours of April 26th, 1993 - the morning 20-year-old Sophie Sergie was killed.

During Tuesday’s court proceedings, Vanessa Allen was the last to testify, explaining to jurors her whereabouts and recollection of that morning. Allen was showering during the time of the death and claims she heard what sounded like “fireworks” coming from the tub room where Sergie’s body was later found. On Wednesday, she reiterated how the light in that tub room was never on and it gave her an uneasy feeling. “We never used the tub area,” Allen said. She explained she thought it was odd that the door was closed and the light was on, and she felt like she had to hurry and get out of there.

Another woman, Jennifer Roy was showering in a separate bathroom adjacent to the tub room when she claims she heard what sounded like an “abrupt noise” followed by “rustling noises.” “At first I thought someone fell, then I heard the muffing, then I knew there was more than one person in there,” Roy testified.

She explained that there were two bathrooms on the second floor of the Bartlett dormitories. She was not showering in the bathroom where Sergie’s body was found but noted that the bathroom she (Roy) was in was a smaller bathroom and the shower would have been next to where the tub room is on the other side of the wall. Roy said that when she first heard what sounded like someone being pushed up against the wall, “It was definitely loud - like it sounded like someone got hurt.”

Roy stated when she finished her shower, it sounded as if the individuals were still there. “I knew they were in there because I never heard the door open again,” Roy said.

She added that something felt really off to her, and she was considering going over to see what happened but decided not to. “It always bothered me that I didn’t,” she said.

Roy later testified she was the one who assisted a woman in the janitorial staff in getting help from a residential aide when Sergie’s body was found later that afternoon. “I could hardly understand her, she was upset, she was screaming,” Roy said.

Another witness to take the stand was Melanie Sagoonick, who testified she briefly saw a man leaving the bathroom during the time of the incident. Prosecutors and the Defense asked Sagoonick questions pertaining to what the man looked like, his height, and his possible build.

Sagoonick’s dorm room, 207, was direct across from the bathroom. Sagoonick stated she and her roommate Virginia were up late watching television. She had a goldfish at the time and was considering getting water for her fish, but instead decided to make juice. She explained that normally she would go to the tub room to get water for her fish because the pitcher was easier to fit underneath; but since she was making juice, she used the water fountain on the other side of the dormitories instead. Sagoonick explained that when she got back to her room, she was cleaning the whiteboard on the outside of her door when she heard a noise. “It sounded like the top of a trashcan hitting a concrete floor,” she explained.

Shortly after, Sagoonick went to use the bathroom - which is when she claims she saw a man around the same age as her, roughly 5′8″, wearing a gray shirt, possibly a collared paisley shirt, exiting the bathroom. Although she did not get a good look at him, she recalls he was in a hurry and she followed him out the bathroom door. “Right when I heard the door open, he was already reaching for the door to the main hallway,” she said.

The defense questioned Sagoonick on the descriptions she had given investigators shortly after the incident. The defense claimed Sagoonick initially described the man as a “dark-skinned male.” Sagoonick told both the prosecutors and the defense her interpretation of darker skin is different due to her life growing up in a rural native town. She was also questioned about a photo lineup she was shown on April 15, 2004.

They also asked Sagoonick about a man named Kenneth Motto. “Did you ever tell anyone a specific name? Did you ever tell anyone that it was Kenny Motto?” Attorney James Howaniec asked.

“If I knew who it was I would have reported it right away. I wouldn’t consider him a friend, just an acquaintance,” said Sagoonick.

Other witnesses to testify were Noah Naylor, who was one of the last persons to see Sergie alive; a campus police officer, Karen Corrigan; and former UAF police officer, Robert French who arrived on the scene that day.

Due to strict rules to the media on recordings, no video or audio was taken Wednesday, and recordings are only given on a case by case basis.

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