MAYS LANDING— The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office will move to detain an Egg Harbor City man who was arrested and charged last week with the sexual assault of a 10 year-old girl inside her Brigantine home 25 years ago, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill announced.
Last week, the New Jersey State Police and Brigantine Police Department charged Brian Lee Avis, 59, of Egg Harbor City, for the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl during a 1996 home invasion, after detectives used DNA evidence to solve the 25-year-old cold case.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer will represent the state at Avis’ detention hearing before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Dorothy M. Incarvito-Garrabrant on Wednesday.
INFORMATION FROM THE NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE: BRIAN LEE AVIS ARREST
On July 19, 1996, the Brigantine Police Department responded to the report of a sexual assault at a residence on East Evans Boulevard in Brigantine City, Atlantic County. A male suspect allegedly broke into the residence in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl while she was sleeping. When the victim woke up, the suspect fled the scene.
Detectives collected evidence at the scene and obtained a DNA sample of the suspect from the victim’s bed. The suspect’s DNA profile had been generated in 2002 and was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is a national DNA collection database, however there were no CODIS matches for the profile.
In January of 2021, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit and Brigantine Police Department reopened the case in a cooperative investigation. Detectives began working with the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences (OFS) and a private company specializing in Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG). The evidence was resubmitted to OFS and a more robust DNA sample for the suspect was obtained.
On July 26, 2021, detectives submitted the DNA to a private laboratory for analysis. The laboratory conducted Microarray Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) testing for IGG analysis in an attempt to identify genetic relatives of the suspect based on the DNA sample obtained at the scene. Through various investigative means, detectives identified Brian Lee Avis as the suspect.
On September 12, detectives located Avis and escorted him to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, where they executed a search warrant for his DNA. Detectives obtained the sample by using a buccal swab, which collects DNA from cells inside of a person’s cheek. The sample was submitted for forensic analysis, which revealed a positive match to the DNA obtained at the scene.
On September 13, detectives arrested Avis and charged him with aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old, sexual assault of a child under 13 years old, burglary, and endangering the welfare of child. He is currently lodged at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
***These charges are merely an accusation and not proof of guilt. In all criminal cases, a charged defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. ***
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.