A United States man faked his death to evade sexual assault charges before he was found alive – suffering from COVID-19 – in Scotland, authorities say.
The man, Nicholas Rossi, was wanted in connection with allegations of a sexual assault in Orem, Utah, in 2008 and an attack in Ohio in 2018, the Utah County Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Originally from Rhode Island, Mr Rossi was arrested using the alias Arthur Knight at a hospital in Glasgow and is being watched by police, Utah officials said.
Utah County Attorney David O Leavitt admitted that had Mr Rossi not contracted COVID and needed medical care, he would still probably be living “off the grid” successfully.
“It’s a lot more difficult than people imagine,” Mr Leavitt said on Thursday.
“People may not know where you are, but with social media, the world is small enough that if anyone sees a picture of you … if you’re going to be off the grid, you better stay in your house and never leave, because someone is going to see you,” he said.
Mr Rossi “fled the country to avoid prosecution” and “attempted to lead investigators and state legislators in other states to believe that he was deceased”, Utah prosecutors said in a statement.
Various news outlets in 2020 cited the memorial website EverLoved.com in reporting that Mr Rossi had died in February that year from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“Mr Rossi was discovered to be living under an assumed name in Scotland,” the Utah County Attorney’s Office said.
“He has been taken into custody and the Utah County Attorney’s Office is working with federal and international agencies to extradite Mr Rossi back to Utah.”
Leavitt thanked Orem police, the Utah State Bureau of Investigation and his office’s investigators, who he said used the latest DNA technology to follow up on the 2008 cold case.
“Our hats are off to the people who stuck with this and made it happen,” Mr Leavitt said.
“There was lots of hard work behind the scenes.”