Amid the pack of British reporters chasing the story of former Rhode Islander Nicholas Alahverdian and his mad masquerade to elude U.S. authorities, Jane MacSorley has been the occasional terrier nipping at the fabulist’s heels.
A podcaster reliant on capturing the voices of a story, MacSorley for months brandished her microphone like a foil, challenging the pretenses of the man who faked his death in 2020 and assumed the identity of a pin-striped Brit living a scholarly life in Glasgow, Scotland.
(He denies ever visiting the United States, let alone Utah, where he’s charged with raping two women and assaulting a third.)
Last April, for instance, when Alahverdian, recovering from COVID, steered his electric wheelchair toward a Scottish extradition court – unaware the oxygen mask he insists he needs had disconnected from its gas tank clanging down the street — MacSorley aimed her microphone at the 35-year-old man in bowtie and bowler and said: “So much for needing oxygen.”
A ranting Alahverdian demanded police officers arrest MacSorley for abuse. They ignored him.
Podcast 'I am not Nicholas' tells the story of Nicholas Alahverdian
MacSorley’s encounters with Alahverdian are front and center in a podcast she narrates, scheduled for release Thursday through Amazon’s streaming audio service, Audible. It is titled: “I am not Nicholas.”
And it offers up, in somewhat dramatic fashion, what MacSorley concludes is proof that Alahverdian’s current wife, Miranda Louisa Knight, is the mysterious “Louise” — his supposed widow who, in phone calls to Rhode Island reporters and others, conspired to spread the lie of Alahverdian's death.
Alahverdian chuckles at the very suggestion when MacSorley first raises the possibility in Episode 5. Miranda adds: “That’s laughable.”
But later, when confronted with audio comparisons of her voice and “Louise’s,” Miranda had nothing to say.
More on Alahverdian:If Nick Alahverdian isn't dead as some believe, who's the widow 'Louise'?
Rhode Islanders feature prominently in 'I am not Nicholas' podcast
Throughout the nine episodes, listeners will also hear the voices of several characters in this still unfolding story of an unbalanced adolescent who gained extraordinary local notoriety for surmounting the despair of children’s group homes, only to mature into a convicted sex offender who police say terrorized woman from Rhode Island to Utah – and swindled those who cared for him.
Though their stories have been told in The Journal and other media, hearing these people in their own words speak of being manipulated and assaulted by a cruel narcissist is powerful. Among them:
Mary Grebinski, whom Alahverdian sexually assaulted at an Ohio community college in 2008. After his conviction, Alahverdian spent several years trying unsuccessfully to sue her for defamation.
Kathryn Heckendon, who spent a traumatizing seven months married to Alahverdian, in Dayton, Ohio, in 2016. She recounts how Alahverdian once hit her for having a run in her stocking, and sometimes locked her in the bathroom, the longest time for two days.
“When he yells,” Heckendon says, “you feel like your soul is being sucked out of you with how much passion he puts into his anger.”
Several Rhode Islanders also tell their stories:
Conor O’Donnell, the Rhode Island State Police detective, who had a 2018 encounter with the “charismatic and condescending” Alahverdian, who insisted he knew more about the state’s sex offender law than O’Donnell did.
The detective would later pursue Alahverdian in 2020, even after the “Nicholas Alahverdian Foundation” and “Louise” began encouraging reporters and Rhode Island politicians to leave messages on an online memorial wall to the fallen “warrior” for children.
The Rev. Bernard Healey, of Our Lady of Mercy in East Greenwich, tells of his strange phone conversations with “Louise,” who said she was in Switzerland as she requested a memorial Mass for her late husband, complete with music from Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. Father Healey said the church wasn’t about “to hire a symphony orchestra.”
After Father Healey canceled the Mass at O’Donnell’s urging – the detective said Alahverdian was probably alive and hiding in Europe — the reverend recounts again how he received several emails “filled with rage” and likely written by Alahverdian himself: “’Who do you think you are?’ and ‘You call yourself a priest?’ Crazy emails.”
Brian Coogan, a former state representative, who took pity on Alahverdian as a State House page living in state care, is also in the podcast. When Coogan expressed an interest in adopting a young Alahverdian, the late Family Court Judge Jerimiah Jerimiah warned him to keep away from the kid: “He’s evil,” said the judge. “A bad seed.”
How was Nicholas Alahverdian, aka Nicholas Rossi, found?
Utah authorities and the FBI, which had gained access to Alahverdian’s iCloud account, were closing in on the fugitive in the fall of 2021. He has used various aliases over the years, including one with his Rhode Island stepfather's surname: Nicholas Rossi.
Scottish police finally arrested him on a Utah rape warrant that December as he lay recovering in a Glasgow hospital from COVID.
How MacSorley got the story
After he was released on bail, Alahverdian and Miranda entertained representatives of several media outlets inside their small row house apartment on West End Exchange Street, an area of Glasgow favored by college students.
The meetings were an audition, of sorts, as the couple weighed which media company might bend the story in Alahverdian’s favor – and which were willing to pay for exclusive access.
One film company went so far as to offer Alahverdian cash, promised him some editorial control and even gave their project the draft title, “Fighting Back,” which pleased the egomaniac. But they soon departed when it became obvious Alahverdian's story of being “Arthur Knight,” a victim of mistaken identity, was too outrageous for anyone to believe.
Alahverdian’s attempt to hit up MacSorely for money was unsuccessful, as listeners will learn. But she admits to initially buying the story of “Arthur Knight,” until the weight of evidence and the level of absurdity became too much. (Alahverdian still insists the identifying tattoos on his arms were placed there while he was in a coma.)
A good story often depends on an arc of revelation, and with MacSorley’s it comes with growing skepticism and confrontation at the end, captured on audio.
In a last visit to Alahverdian's flat, MacSorely demands repeatedly that “Arthur” lower his mask to show the pronounced space between his front teeth – just like the one in the photo she produces of Alahverdian.
He refuses over and over and orders her and her producer out of his apartment, calling her “a lying reporter without a program,” since he’s no longer cooperating with her.
But with her podcast, MacSorley has proven yet another Alahverdian falsehood.
More on the Nicholas Alahverdian story:
Contact Tom Mooney at: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: New podcast on Nicholas Alahverdian, 'I am not Nicholas' coming to Audible