The search for a Rhode Island man who faced prosecution in the United States has now come to a close following his hospitalization for COVID-19. Authorities located Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, in all places, Glasgow, Scotland, after developing a serious case of coronavirus that required him to be placed on a respirator. Alahverdian was wanted by Interpol, and faces extradition to the United States with regards to a 2008 charge of first-degree rape in Utah, leading to a faked death investigation.
Back in 2008, when he was residing in Orem, Utah, Alahverdian was going by the surname “Rossi.” While on Myspace, he met a 21-year-old woman with whom he developed a relationship. When she finally ended the relationship, Alahverdian still owed her some money. Despite promises to pay her back, she asserted that Alahverdian sexually assault her. However, the crucial DNA material from the survivor’s evidence collection kit was not tested until almost ten years later in 2017 due to the nationwide phenomenon in which state departments experience deep backlogs in their evidence collection kits, or as they’re commonly known, “rape kits.” Once the DNA was finally tested, it came back as a match to another sexual assault case in Ohio. Unfortunately, Alahverdian was already believed to be dead due to a faked death scenario.
“Investigators also learned that Nicholas Rossi had fled the country to avoid prosecution in Ohio, and attempted to leave investigators and state legislators in other states to believe that he was deceased,” said a statement released from Utah County Attorney David Leavitt’s office on Wednesday. “Mr. Rossi was discovered to be living under an assumed name in Scotland.”
In addition to charges that Alahverdian faces in both Ohio and Utah, he is also wanted by Rhode Island State Police for charges related to failing to register as a sex offender. He is also wanted at the federal level by the FBI for charges relating to credit card fraud committed in the name of his foster father, totaling more than $200,000.
Following the discovery of Alahverdian’s various crimes and attempt to fake his death to evade prosecution, many have been left with the question of how individuals who are believed to have faked their deaths can ever be held to account for their actions. In Alahverdian’s case, law enforcement was heavily involved, if not hamstrung by the rape kit backlog that delayed the testing of the evidence. However, many families of victims of violent crimes, large-scale frauds, or related crimes, sometimes have no recourse with the main suspect in their case manages to evade justice. In Alahverdian’s case, his identity was ultimately discovered once he was forced to check into a hospital for COVID-19, but such circumstances may not occur in other cases. While it’s true that the FBI can work with other foreign state intelligence agencies to search for high-profile targets on their list, it can still be difficult to conduct boots-on-the-ground investigations that can lead to major developments in a search. To further exacerbate matters, when the individual has gone the extra mile to fake their death, the case becomes even more complicated.
If corporations, families, or private individuals believe a person of interest has faked death in order to escape accountability, there are options outside of the traditional law enforcement route. Private investigators and private intelligence firms sometimes have the resources and manpower to send investigators outside the United States borders to look for evidence of a faked death scenario in their case. Private investigators have access to verified databases that can extend nationally, and often do not have the caseload of state or federal investigators that would otherwise prevent them from chasing down every lead in a faked death scenario. While state or federal agencies may not be able to deploy agents on a particular case, private investigators have complete autonomy from state and federal agencies as long as they are acting within the confines of their license. The value in this autonomy is found in the investigator’s ability to trigger a field investigation outside of U.S. jurisdiction without waiting for approval. In this way, more valuable time is not lost in the case, which increases the likelihood that both witnesses and crucial evidence in the case can still be recovered.