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Authorities question whether child welfare activist died

January 27, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The death of a vocal critic of Rhode Island’s child care system last year still appears to be an open question.

Rhode Island State Police Lt. Col. Kevin Barry says the agency began looking into whether Nicholas Alahverdian was still alive because it didn’t have definitive proof he died, The Providence Journal reported. The agency still has a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly failing to register in the state as a sex offender, Barry told the newspaper.

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Alahverdian’s former lawyer and former foster family are also among those questioning his death.

Sharon Lane, his former foster mother, told the Journal the family had filed a complaint alleging Alahverdian fraudulently obtained 22 credit cards and loans under her husband’s name and ran up debts totaling almost $200,000.

Former Rhode Island Attorney General Jeffrey Pine, who represented Alahverdian in the claim he failed to register as a sex offender, said Alahverdian had been living in Ireland at the time and was aware the FBI was looking into the fraud allegations.

“The next thing I know he gets very, very sick with cancer and dies within weeks,” Pine told the Journal. “Do I think it’s possible he’s alive? Of course I do.”

Meanwhile, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has flagged an entry on Alahverdian and his death as a potential hoax after noting that someone using accounts he created has been making changes recently, the Journal reported.

But a woman who says she’s Alahverdian’s widow calls the speculation disgraceful. She tells the Journal her husband was cremated and his remains scattered at sea. She declined to provide the paper with a copy of his death certificate.

An obituary said the 32-year-old died Feb. 29, 2020, following a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leaving a wife and two children.

Alahverdian had for years been an outspoken critic of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families.

He testified before state lawmakers about being sexually abused and tortured while in foster care. He also sued the state and his alleged abusers in a federal lawsuit settled in 2013.