St. Charles man's disappearance linked to alleged sex assault, extortion

2013-10-03T23:15:00Z 2014-06-30T12:15:50Z St. Charles man's disappearance linked to alleged sex assault, extortionBy Susan Weich sweich@post-dispatch.com 636-493-9674 stltoday.com

ST. CHARLES • When Raymond David Avett disappeared from his St. Charles home over the summer, police feared they would find him dead.

Avett had left suicide notes at several locations. One of his vehicles, a Ford Explorer, was discovered abandoned in downtown St. Louis, not far from the riverfront. His disappearance was covered by the Post-Dispatch and other media outlets in the area.

But investigators now say Avett — who turned up in Maryland three weeks later — was part of a scheme to cover up allegations that he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl.

Avett, 45, and his former live-in girlfriend, Jennifer L. Callaway, 34, were both charged late Wednesday with concealing a felony. Bail for Avett was set at $250,000, cash only. Callaway's bail is $200,000, also cash only.

Callaway is accused of coercing Avett into giving her his home, SUV, boat and life insurance in exchange for not reporting the alleged attack to authorities.

According to police, a relative of Callaway’s told her about the alleged abuse on May 27. The relative had discovered a diary kept by the girl, which included an entry suggesting that Avett had performed a sex act on her, police said.

Callaway called police to ask for assistance in moving her belongings out of Avett’s home in the 3000 block of Flatboat Station, but she never reported the abuse.

Three weeks later, police say Callaway sent Avett a text message indicating that she was going to be sending him a detailed document he needed to sign within 48 hours. If Avett agreed, Callaway said it would keep her from reporting the sexual abuse allegations, police said.

Later that day, Callaway sent the document, which demanded that Avett give up his $120,000 condominium, his H3 Hummer and his boat, the “Anita Cocktail.” It also said that he must apply for an insurance policy that would benefit the girl, police said.

Avett moved out of his home, and Callaway moved in and changed the locks, police said. Avett also handed over the keys to his SUV.

The next day, June 18, Avett disappeared.

“Apparently, it was an attempt to fake his own death,” said Sgt. Todd Wilson of the St. Charles Police Department. “I guess so he could go on with another life.”

Avett was located on July 12, when he was stopped by police in Maryland. According to authorities he had cashed out the proceeds of his retirement accounts, which were valued at more than $100,000.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Thursday that Avett has not been charged with a sex crime. By failing to report the alleged offense, Lohmar said, Callaway took away his office’s ability to properly investigate the case.

Additionally, Callaway’s actions in allegedly blackmailing Avett created credibility issues with her testimony, Lohmar said.

“Bottom line is that we weren’t able to uncover any credible evidence that a molestation took place, aside from circumstantial evidence — the suspect Avett’s apparent willingness to go along with the extortion,” Lohmar said.

Susan Weich is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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