[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
An American criminal, who faked his death and escaped the country to avoid sexual assault charges, was found in Scotland last month after he wound up in the hospital with COVID-19.
According to authorities who spoke with The Providence Journal on Wednesday, Nicholas Alahverdian (above) was found alive, though struggling with his health. Rhode Island State Police Major Robert A. Creamer explained:
“He was located in Scotland about a month ago, where he was on a ventilator.”
Authorities believe he attempted to avoid the hospital by hiring a “private ambulance,” but his condition was serious enough, that he landed in a medical center anyway, WPRI reported.
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The 34-year-old fugitive was using the name Arthur Knight while out of the country, according to The New York Times. He also had many other aliases throughout his life. He has been linked to multiple sexual assault cases across various states, including a 2008 incident in Utah in which he assaulted a female victim he first met online.
According to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, he was identified using photo evidence. As part of the extradition process, DNA and fingerprint samples were also provided to Interpol. Speaking to The National, a Scotland police spokeswoman explained the arrest, saying:
“Officers arrested a 34-year-old man in Glasgow on Monday, December 13, in connection with an international arrest warrant.”
As mentioned, Nicholas was trying to avoid fraud and sexual assault charges in Utah and Ohio. Thanks to the Sex Assault Kit Initiative, a “multi-disciplinary team to review old sexual assault cases where the original sexual assault kits had not been tested,” information from a rape kit was entered into a national database, finally resulting in a suspect’s name. Speaking to local outlet WJAR, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt explained:
“It was a cold case because the suspect did a really great job of hiding himself and creating new identities.”
On Wednesday, the attorney added in a press release that one of Nicholas’ fake identities, Nicholas Rossi, came up as a suspect the 2008 rape case, writing:
“In 2017, as part of the Sex Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) the original sexual assault kit was submitted for testing, and in 2018 the DNA profile from the Utah sexual assault came back as a match to a sexual assault case in Ohio. The suspect, in that case, was Nicholas Rossi.”
The attorney claimed that the fugitive faked his death and fled the country to avoid consequences for the sexual assault arrest in Ohio. They allegedly discovered he was a “suspect in a number of similar offenses in Utah and throughout the United States after the 2008 incident.” Leavitt told People:
“Our office is grateful for the significant interagency collaboration of law enforcement to bring this suspect to justice. We credit Utah’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant funded through the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance as playing a significant role in testing backlogged kits and ultimately identifying the suspect.”
Interestingly, according to The Providence Journal, Alahverdian also faces fraud and extortion charges after he allegedly obtained 22 credit cards and loans in the name of his former foster mother’s husband, racking up $200,000 in debt. He also owes his ex-wife, Kathryn Heckendorn, over $60,000. Yikes.
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At the time of his fake death, the Rhode Island native was remembered in a lengthy obituary published in February 2020. He was said to have died after “going public with his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” His wife and two children, as well as extended family, were supposedly by his side when he passed away. The obit said:
“Mr. Alahverdian was a devout Roman Catholic. In keeping with Mr. Alahverdian’s wishes, his earthly remains were cremated with his ashes scattered at sea.”
His wife was reportedly the one who called media outlets at the time to inform them of her husband’s (fake) death. It’s unclear if the family could face any consequences for possibly helping Nicholas flee the country, if they did so.
Crazy stuff. At this time, authorities are working to have the fugitive transferred back to the US, but it could take a while. Hear more about the case (below).