MAYS LANDING- An Egg Harbor City man faces new charges by Galloway Township Police for the sexual assault of a 5 year-old girl in 2003, after he was charged last week by the Brigantine Police Department and the New Jersey State Police with the sexual assault of a 10 year-old Brigantine girl in connection to a 25 year-old case in Brigantine, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill announced.
Brian Lee Avis, 59, is charged with Sexual Assault of a Juvenile, Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Burglary in connection to a 2003, incident that occurred in Galloway Township. The latest charges against Avis come after Galloway Township Police Det. Sgt. First Class Ryan Goehringer received correspondence on Sept. 20, 2021, from the New Jersey State Police AFIS Lab with regards to a delayed fingerprint hit. The delayed fingerprint hit was confirmed and came back to Avis in connection to a sexual assault and burglary case investigated by Galloway Township Police on July 18, 2003.
The charges against Avis from Galloway Township Police, come one week after detectives from the Brigantine Police Department and the New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit charged Avis in connection to a 25 year-old sexual assault case of a 10 year-old girl. Avis’ fingerprints were taken by Brigantine Police at the time of his arrest on Sept. 13, 2021, for the sexual assault of the 10 year-old Brigantine girl in 1996. Avis’ fingerprints were uploaded to the New Jersey State Police AFIS Lab and produced a match to fingerprints recovered in 2003 by Galloway Township Police at the scene of the sexual assault of the 5 year-old girl on July 18, 2003.
On July 18, 2003, at 11:43 p.m., Galloway Township Police were dispatched to 457 Willow Ave. for a report of a burglary. Upon arrival, the mother of the juvenile victim advised that she observed a male hastily exiting the home. The mother of the 5 year-old female victim told police that when she encountered her daughter the child’s pajama bottoms were pulled down.
*1996 Brigantine Sexual Assault of 10 year-old Girl
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.
Avis is currently lodged at the Atlantic County Justice Facility. Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer represents the state in both matters. A detention hearing for both matters is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.
***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. ***