Utah suspect who faked his death, fled U.S. is arrested in Scotland

He was living under an assumed name, authorities said. DNA evidence linked him to the case.

A man suspected in a 2008 Utah sexual assault case was arrested in Scotland last month while living under an assumed name after authorities said he apparently faked his own death and fled the U.S.

Nicholas Rossi, 34, is accused of raping a 21-year-old woman in Utah in 2008. A sexual assault kit was completed at the time, and Rossi was identified as a suspect. But the lead detective closed the case without referring it to prosecutors for screening, according to a news release from the Utah County Attorney’s office.

In 2017, the rape kit was submitted for testing as part of the State Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Assault Kit Initiative. The effort aimed to eliminate Utah’s rape kit backlog. From 2015-2020, 11,193 sexual assault kits were tested, 5,025 forensic DNA profiles were entered into a national database, and 1,979 suspects were identified.

In 2018, DNA evidence collected from the 2008 case matched evidence from a sexual assault case in Ohio. The suspect in that case was Rossi.

Department of Public Safety agents then worked with police in Orem — where the 2008 case originated — and Utah County prosecutors to locate the Utah victim. Based on evidence and the woman’s willingness to move forward with prosecution, Rossi was charged in 4th District Court in September 2020.

Throughout their investigation, agents discovered that Rossi was a suspect in “a number of similar offenses in Utah and throughout the United States,” the news release states.

In December, Rossi was arrested in Scotland while reportedly hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment.

According to charging documents, which were unsealed this week, Rossi met the Utah victim online, but the victim broke things off because she said Rossi owed her money and was “becoming more aggressive.”

After, Rossi came to her Orem apartment in July 2008 and sexually assaulted her, she told police. He now faces one count of rape, a first-degree felony.

Rossi was known by a number of aliases, authorities said. According to the Providence Journal, he was living in Rhode Island under the name Nicholas Alahverdian when he allegedly faked his own death.

The Providence news organization reported that Alahverdian was “active in Rhode Island politics” and reportedly made a name for himself “as a vehement critic of the child welfare system” before his apparent death was announced in February 2020.

Rossi is then believed to have fled to Ireland, then Scotland to avoid arrest.

He was living in Scotland under an assumed name — Arthur Knight — when he was taken into custody in a Glasgow hospital, according to The Scottish Sun. Rossi had been in an intensive care unit and on a ventilator for COVID-19 treatment.

The Utah County Attorney’s office said in a news release that investigators are working with federal and international agencies to extradite Rossi back to Utah.

“Our office is grateful for the significant interagency collaboration of law enforcement to bring this suspect to justice,” Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said in a statement.