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DNA dormant for over a decade led to capture of RI man in faked-death case

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Unsealed court documents in a case against a Rhode Island man who authorities say faked his own death allege he is a suspect in sexual assault cases in multiple states.

Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, is facing one count of rape in the first degree in Utah County, Utah. Documents unsealed Thursday show Alahverdian met a woman using the online platform MySpace in 2008, and the two dated for a short time. But the woman later told police that Alahverdian — who went by Nicholas Rossi in Utah — became increasingly rough during sex and she wanted out of the relationship.

The woman said Alahverdian owed her money and lured her to his apartment with the promise to pay it back. But while there, prosecutors said Alahverdian forced himself on her and allegedly sexually assaulted her.

Prosecutors wrote the woman “told him ‘no’ at least ’10 times.'”

Evidence was collected using a rape kit, but it wasn’t until 2017, when the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative was launched, that police said they were able to tie the DNA evidence to Alahverdian using the national database.

Alahverdian vanished in 2020, shortly after an arrest warrant in Utah was issued.

Earlier that year a woman claiming to be Alahverdian’s wife called 12 News and other media outlets, saying the then-32-year-old had died of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (12 News did not publish the obituary after being unable to verify the claim.)

The court documents show the FBI believed the fugitive was in Ireland in 2019, but it wasn’t until two years later that COVID-19 ultimately led to his capture.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Alahverdian — using an assumed name — was being treated for the virus at a hospital in Scotland. It is unclear what prompted authorities to connect with hospital staff, but officials in the U.S. eventually sent a picture of the wanted man, and the hospital said it was a match.

“He’s gone through great lengths to hide his whereabouts,” Leavitt said. “He has gone through great lengths to get out of the hospital in Scotland so far as even trying to hire a private ambulance to be able to get away.”

Documents show Alahverdian is a suspect in similar cases in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Ohio. (He is facing fraud-related charges in Ohio.)

Kristy dosReis, a spokesperson for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, said there are no arrest warrants for Alahverdian in Rhode Island.

“He allegedly faked his own death and used different aliases across the country and maybe even the world,” Leavitt said. “This is one of those instances where interagency collaboration not just over state lines but also across international borders has really helped to bring about hopefully justice.”

It is unclear when — or if — Alahverdian will be back on U.S. soil. He first has to face an extradition hearing in the United Kingdom. Leavitt said if he doesn’t fight extradition, he could be back within weeks, but it could take months if he denies being a wanted man.

The tale has made international news, something Leavitt said has surprised him, but he welcomes the coverage.

“We do believe that there are other victims, and we are hopeful that the attention this case is bringing if there are other victims they will come forward and they will contact either our office in Utah County or their local jurisdiction,” he said.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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