Nicholas Alahverdian is alive, say police.
The Rhode Island man who state and federal law-enforcement officials suspect faked his own death in 2020 — after his vociferous claims to reporters that he was on death’s door — turned up in a hospital in Scotland, where he almost died of COVID.
“He was located in Scotland about a month ago, where he was on a ventilator,” Rhode Island State Police Maj. Robert A. Creamer confirmed to The Journal on Wednesday.
Creamer said the state police were notified this week by officials in Utah that Alahverdian had been found.
Utah officials told The Journal on Wednesday that DNA evidence linked Alahverdian to a 2018 sexual-assault case there. At the time Alahverdian was using the alias Nicholas Rossi.
Through their investigation, the Utah County Attorney’s Office said, agents “discovered that Nicholas Rossi was a suspect in a number of similar offenses in Utah and throughout the United States after [an initial] 2008 incident.”
Alahverdian was convicted in 2008 on two sex-related charges after an encounter with a fellow student in a stairwell at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, according to court documents.
DNA evidence in that case, however, was not entered in a national DNA database until 2017. A year later, DNA from a recent Utah sexual assault came back as a match in Alahverdian’s 2008 case, said Utah’s County Attorney’s Office.
"Investigators also learned that Nicholas Rossi had fled the country to avoid prosecution in Ohio and attempted to lead investigators and state legislators in other states to believe that he was deceased," the Utah County Attorney's office said. "He has been taken into custody and the Utah County Attorney’s Office is working with federal and international agencies to extradite Mr. Rossi back to Utah."
Alahverdian, who made a Rhode Island name for himself as a vehement critic of the child welfare system, also faced fraud and extortion complaints in Utah and Ohio, officials have said.
His former foster mother in Ohio told The Journal a year ago that Alahverdian had fraudulently obtained 22 credit cards and loans under her husband’s name and run up debts totaling almost $200,000.
And Alahverdian still owes an Ohio woman to whom he was briefly married, Kathryn Heckendorn, more than $60,000.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Heckendorn said a public safety official from Utah had called her last week to say "they got him."
“At first I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I said this has to be Nick; he probably hired someone to get in touch with me to scope out the situation, because that’s the very special kind of deception he would do.”
A Scottish newspaper, without naming Alahverdian by name, ran a story earlier this week about how an American fugitive wanted by Interpol had been arrested at a Glasgow hospital and arraigned.
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Extradition proceedings are underway, but it was unclear when Alahverdian would be brought back to the United States.
Alahverdian’s announced death at 32 in February 2020 came just two months after he informed reporters at various media outlets that he had late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live.
As his supposed death neared, Alahverdian pressed the story line that his life as a crusader for children, now about to be cut short, was news that needed reporting.
He insisted as much to a Journal reporter and editor, who chose not to write about him, much to Alahverdian’s angry persistence.
His obituary declared him a “warrior” for children whose last words were “fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun.”
His “death” was followed by plans for elaborate memorials of his life, with lawmakers and others asked to participate by someone claiming to be Alahverdian’s wife.
But those memorials were scuttled after law-enforcement officials quietly spread the word that Alahverdian might not be dead after all — and they were on his trail.
Email Tom Mooney at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Nike Alahverdian accused of faking his death is wanted in Utah