The US police chief who hunted down a Scottish rapist who faked his own death says he has never worked on an investigation like this.
Deputy Chief John Thornburg was then a captain in the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office in California when Kim Avis went missing in 2019 on a beach known for its dangerous currents.
Thornburg and his team quickly learned that Avis, who was convicted on Friday of a spate of rape and sexual assault on Friday, was on trial in Scotland at the time and said a massive operation, involving up to 10 different agencies had been launched to find him.
Avis, 57, from Inverness, was found guilty by Glasgow High Court on Friday of 14 counts involving two girls and two women between 2006 and 2017.
Thornburg said: “I will have spent 25 years in law enforcement in July and this case is unique, at least in my experience. He came to California and his son then reported that he was missing for swimming at Monastery Beach. I don’t think we intend to suggest that this was done as a ruse to avoid what was happening in Scotland.
“We had about five potential sightings that we followed up on. The US Marshals Service located him in Colorado Springs a few months later and we were able to extradite him to Scotland.
“When you take all the facts and circumstances together, including the number of charges he faced in Scotland, this is a unique case. I am happy that we were able to work together and that he made his day in court. The jury has found their verdict and it looks like the case has finally come to an end.
“From what I understand, he’s a bit of a con artist and a talker and I don’t think it’s beyond the possibilities that he said to himself,” It’s a dangerous beach so let’s see if that works’ and used her child as a flagman to call her.
“I would be curious if he chose this particular beach because it is known as a place where we have rescues. It flows into an underwater canyon so it gets very deep, very quickly.
“We’ve had cases of people swimming there and the ocean has kept them and we’ve never found them. It would be a bit of a coincidence if he chose this beach by chance.
“When the arrest warrant came in from Scotland, we were able to involve the feds. The US Marshals located him and let us know.
Avis’s search cost thousands of dollars and involved agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Scottish Police, Scottish Prosecutors, the US Marshals Service and the US Department of Justice.
Thornburg added: “When we thought it was a rescue operation, we set up a drone. The California Fire Department, California State Parks, and the US Coast Guard are also out. A lot of resources have been used.
“In the end, things have caught up with him and the Scottish courts will decide on his sentence and the victims in the case will know that justice has been served.”
Council and Charity Supported by a Street Drifter in Highland Town
Kim Avis was licensed as a street trader and was approved as a fundraiser by the Highland Council and a leading charity after moving to the Highlands in the 1990s.
At a meeting to grant his license to trade in 2008, Inverness advisers described Avis, born in Newmarket, Suffolk, as a ‘city institution’. One of them added that there was “no better ambassador for the city”.
A local who knew Avis, who was known by at least three names – Kim Avis, Kim Gordon and Kim Vincent – since the 1990s, said: jewelry for women. He played guitar in the city center and had a place at the bottom of the Raining’s Stairs.
A photograph published in a local newspaper in 1999 showed Avis being appointed to volunteer with Save The Children. The source said: “He has appeared as a vagrant and I have spoken with him on several occasions and he has never given details about himself or his background.”
Save The Children said: “We were shocked to read allegations against a man who volunteered for us. Our selection of volunteers is much more rigorous today than it was in 1999.
The Highlands Council said: “There is a legal obligation to consult the Chief of Police on all license applications. We have not received any objections from the Chief Constable regarding this person’s nominations.