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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Beril Naz Hassan and Rachael Davies

Who is Nicholas Rossi? US fugitive who faked his own death to be extradited to US

Following a ruling in a Scottish court, Nicholas Rossi, an American who claims to be an orphaned Irish man named Arthur Knight, will be extradited to the US to face rape charges.

The initial ruling was decided at the beginning of August, but Angela Constance has now signed the extradition order as of last week, meaning the extradition will now go ahead.

The 35-year-old was already a convicted sex offender when he faked his own death in 2020 and fled to Scotland to avoid being prosecuted for rape and sexual assault.

In December 2021, he was traced to a Covid ward in Glasgow, where he was finally caught and arrested, and court proceedings have been taking place ever since to determine whether he should be extradited.

Rossi appeared at the court on Wednesday, August 2, by video link after claiming to be unwell.

But who exactly is Nicholas Rossi?

Here is everything we know.

Who is Nicholas Rossi?

Nicholas Rossi, born Nicholas Alahverdian, is an American sex offender.

He was raised in Rhode Island’s social service system within the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

While he was a student at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio, in January 2008, he was found guilty of sexual imposition and public indecency. Rossi met the female student in question on MySpace before arranging lunch. He told her that he was new to the area and wanted to make friends. After lunch, he offered to walk her to class but, on the way, he assaulted her.

He was ordered to pay a fine and register as a sex offender for 15 years.

In September 2008, a rape was reported to the officials. Rossi’s former girlfriend alleged that he pushed her onto a couch and forced her to have sex as she begged him to stop. Unfortunately, the case sat cold in Utah for more than a decade.

In 2011, Rossi launched a high-profile bid to sue those involved in his care in Rhode Island, claiming he was physically and mentally abused. While the state denied liability, it eventually settled with Rossi, reportedly for about $70,000 (£55,320).

In 2015, six months after they met in church, Rossi married Kathryn Heckendorn in Dayton, Ohio. Talking to the BBC, Heckendorn revealed that she felt rushed and knew it was a mistake.

She explained: “He broke me down and we got married without telling anybody,” she said. “We went to the courthouse, it was him and I and the judge, and we went home and we started life.

“It was the first day he first hit me, right after we were married.”

Heckendorn said Rossi cut her off from her loved ones, told her what she could wear, and would punch, push and restrain her.

“I would be hit on a daily occurrence,” she said. “[I would be] put down verbally [and told] just how stupid, dumb I was. If I didn’t act that way, I wouldn’t have to get hurt.

“There were times when he would hold a knife to my throat or his throat.

“When he had it to my throat, I told him to just go ahead, it’ll be better than this hell I’m living in.

“As soon as I said that, he let me go and he held the knife to his throat and I laughed. I said, ‘Go ahead, that’s even better’. He put the knife down and he just started hitting me.”

Heckendorn finally escaped and used a recording of an instance of abuse to prove her case. The judge that ruled over their divorce case accused Rossi of “gross neglect of duty and cruelty”.

In late 2019, Rossi claimed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was dying.

Around that same time period, the police were also investigating Rossi for identity theft and credit card fraud as his foster parents accused him of racking up $200,000 (£156,000) of debt in their names.

He is believed to have met Miranda Knight in Bristol that same year before marrying her in early 2020.

While it is unclear when Rossi left the US for the UK, an obituary appeared online in early 2020 saying that he’d passed away and his ashes had been scattered at sea.

And, in July 2020, the evidence from the 2008 rape incident was entered into the database and revealed that the criminal was Nicholas Rossi.

In 2021, Rossi, now using the alias Arthur Knight, and his wife moved to Glasgow.

When Covid hit, Rossi had to be hospitalised at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where staff recognised his face and tattoos from the Interpol wanted notice.

On December 13, 2021, he was served with an Interpol red notice and identified as Rossi.

Since then, he has made a series of court appearances, insisting that they are mistaking him for Rossi. He also claimed that he was given tattoos while unconscious at the hospital in an attempt to frame him.

He appeared in court in a wheelchair, his accent changed several times as he gave evidence, and claimed he was physically unwell. Meanwhile, his fingerprints and tattoos were found to match that of Rossi’s and medical experts told the court they didn’t find any reason for Rossi to be using a wheelchair as his legs were “strong and athletic”.

While he fought the extradition process for as long as he could, the Scottish court ruled that he could be extradited to the US to face the criminal charges against him.

Sheriff Norman McFadyen said, “He continues to maintain that he is an Irishman, adopted at birth, long resident in the United Kingdom and who has never set foot in the United States.

Despite a court ruling last November that he is Rossi, the accused insists it is a case of mistaken identity and that he is actually an Irish orphan called Arthur Knight.

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