Cops say a man from Egg Harbor City has been charged in connection to the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl during a home invasion in Brigantine a quarter of a century ago.

59-year-old Brian Lee Avis was arrested earlier this week and is facing 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 charges.

According to the New Jersey State Police, on July 19, 1996, officers with the Brigantine Police Department responded to the report of a sexual assault at a home on East Evans Boulevard. Cops say a man allegedly broke into the residence and sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl while she was sleeping.

Following the alleged crime, detectives collected evidence at the scene and obtained a DNA sample of the suspect from the victim’s bed, however, years later, there was no match in a national DNA collection database.

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This past January, the New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit and Brigantine Police Department reopened the case and they reanalyzed the DNA sample. Through their work, cops say they identified Brian Lee Avis as the suspect.

Last Sunday, cops located Avis and collected a new DNA sample from inside of his cheek which, they say, was a positive match to the DNA collected at the crime scene back in 1996. He was arrested on Monday.

"No matter how long ago a crime occurred, we are committed to ensuring those who break the law are held accountable," said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck in a statement. "I want to recognize the outstanding job by all law enforcement officers involved in the review and reinvestigation of this case. Their persistence in the search for justice reflects the very best of our law enforcement profession."

Avis is currently being held in the Atlantic County Jail.

Anyone with additional information about this case, or ones like it, is asked to contact Det. Sgt. John Glasser of the Brigantine Police Department at (609) 266-7600.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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