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NJ Man Charged In 2nd Home Invasion Sex Assault Of Child 18 Years Later

Brian Lee Avis
Brian Lee Avis Photo Credit: Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office

An Egg Harbor City man who last week was charged with the sexual assault of a 10 year-old girl during a 1996 home invasion has been accused of doing the same to a 5-year-old girl, authorities announced Wednesday.

Brian Lee Avis, 59, of Egg Harbor City, broke into a Willow Avenue home in Galloway on July 18, 2003 around 11:45 p.m., and quickly left,  Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill said.

A mother in the home told police she noticed her daughter's pajama pants were pulled down, Shill said.

The case was unsolved until earlier this week, when Galloway Township Police Det. Sgt. First Class Ryan Goehringer was notified in a delayed fingerprint hit, authorities said.

The fingerprints linked Avis to the 2003 sex assault burglary case, according to Shill.

Avis last week was charged with sexual assaulting a 10-year-old girl during a 1996 home invasion, after detectives used DNA evidence to solve the 25-year-old cold case, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Brigantine police responded to reports of a sexual assault at an East Evans Boulevard home on July 19, 1996, after a man broke into a home in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted the girl while she was sleeping, New Jersey State Police said.

When the girl woke up, the suspect fled the scene.

Detectives collected evidence at the scene and then 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 2021, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit and Brigantine Police Department reopened the case.

Detectives worked 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  Avis as the suspect.

On Sept. 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 Sept. 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 was lodged at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the ACPO website, 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. 

Cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County are offered.

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