Months after the announcement that Nicholas Alahverdian had died last February — his obituary declared him a “warrior” for children whose last words were “fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun” — Father Bernard Healey received an email from someone “purporting to be his widow.”
“This person,” Father Healey says, requested a memorial Mass for Alahverdian at Our Lady of Mercy, in East Greenwich. State politicians and other officials would be invited to celebrate the life of the 32-year-old man who had once been a familiar State House advocate for child welfare reform.
But not long after the arrangements were made, someone else reached out to Pastor Healey, he says: State Police Detective Conor O’Donnell.
“He asked me not to hold the Mass,” says Father Healey. “He said that Mr. Alahverdian had faked his own death, was a fugitive from justice for a host of crimes and that the woman who reached out to me may have been him.”
Father Healey says the detective told him that the person who had emailed and called several times about plans for the Mass, was possibly using “some kind of device that can change people’s voices.”
State Rep. Raymond Hull and state Sen. Maryellen Goodwin tell The Journal that O’Donnell shared that same information with them as he investigated last summer whether Alahverdian was still alive, the possible target of an FBI investigation.
Alahverdian’s former foster parents in Ohio have said Alahverdian had fraudulently obtained 22 credit cards and loans under his foster father’s name and ran up debts totaling almost $200,000.
Ohio court records also show Alahverdian’s second wife was granted a divorce in 2017, after less than two years of marriage, with Alahverdian still owing her $52,000 from a loan.
The person purporting to be Alahverdian’s widow did not respond to a Journal email last week requesting comment on the loan or the fraud allegations.
But after a story ran, The Journal received a nine-page, often incoherent, email from the same person late Friday.
The person confirmed that Alahverdian had been in contact with the FBI in December 2019 — one month before Alahverdian informed several media outlets that he had terminal cancer and they should report about his impending death.
“My husband was the one who contacted the FBI,” the person wrote. “Because they refused to speak to him and because he was treated so badly on the phone when he was trying to understand what this was all about, he emailed the top US attorney for Ohio Dave DeVillers and explained how he was treated and that he was hung up on when he was trying to comply with a potential investigation.”
In the rambling email, the purported widow, who called herself Louise, cast one aspersion after another on people in Alahverdian’s past.
The email alleged his Ohio foster parents filed false fraud allegations against him because he left their Mormon church.
“There was no theft or fraud,” the person claimed. “There was an establishment of an organization that the church wanted to be kept independent of their name so that they could influence public officials.”
The email labeled the Ohio college student who Alahverdian was convicted of groping and exposing himself to in 2008 as “the aggressor of the contact.”
It described the police officer at Sinclair Community College who investigated the incident in a school stairwell as a liar “who fabricated a confession from my husband,” and the judge who heard the case as incompetent.
“The municipal court judge not only failed to give my husband a jury trial but he also told him to ‘shut up’ each time my husband wanted to testify.”
And so it went on.
Father Healey says the voice he spoke with last summer about an August memorial Mass sounded female and English.
Rep. Hull says the person who contacted him around the time of Alahverdian’s announced death from late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma had an accent that “sounded Irish, or something European.”
(Alahverdian had pestered Hull with emails and calls to introduce a piece of child welfare legislation in his name before he died. “He just beat you down,” says Hull.)
The same person called long-time state Sen. Goodwin, asking her to introduce a condolence resolution in the Senate for Alahverdian’s family.
Goodwin also remembers the person having an accent and O’Donnell telling her — as Hull says the detective told him — the person may have been trying to disguise their voice.
“The whole thing was very odd,” Goodwin says, referring to the resolution request.
Most of Alahverdian’s State House advocacy work had happened a decade earlier. And the “widow wasn’t very forthcoming” about what Alahverdian had been doing more recently — information that would typically be included in a condolence resolution, Goodwin says.
The purported widow also insisted that neither her name nor her two children’s names appear on the resolution — and she wouldn’t give an address where the formal document could be mailed as a keepsake, Goodwin says.
“It really got mysterious,” says Goodwin.
Alahverdian had told reporters he and his family had been living out of the country for the last few years because of threats they had received from his work to improve the Department of Children Youth and Families.
Alahverdian once told a Journal reporter they were living in Quebec.
Hull said he thought the widow had told him they were living in Ireland or maybe Germany.
Father Healey says “The person purporting to be [Alahverdian’s] wife told me they were living in Switzerland.”
Lawyer Jeffrey Pine, who represented Alahverdian toward the end of 2019, said Alahverdian was living in Ireland prior to his client’s announced death.
Pine told the Journal recently: “The next thing I know he gets very, very sick with cancer and dies within weeks. Do I think it’s possible he’s alive? Of course I do.”
Father Healey says his church canceled the memorial Mass for Alahverdian and granted the state police detective’s request that the true reason not be publicized. “He said we’re trying to catch him.”
After the cancellation “I got a few irate and verbose emails from the purported wife,” says Father Healey.
“You can’t make it up,” he says. “In 25 years as a priest, this was one of the most bizarre developments.”