Police: Missouri man faked death after ex tried to blackmail him

10/04/2013 12:09 PM

10/05/2013 7:32 AM

Authorities say a suburban St. Louis man faked his own suicide after giving his home, car and boat to his ex-girlfriend in order to keep her from reporting allegations that he sexually abused a 6-year-old girl.

Raymond David Avett, 45, and his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer L. Callaway, 34, were both charged Wednesday with concealing a felony.

They remained jailed Friday — Avett on $250,000 bond and Callaway on $200,000 bond.

Avett, of St. Charles, left suicide notes in several places before he disappeared in June, including inside his Ford Explorer, which was found abandoned in downtown St. Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Avett turned up in Maryland three weeks later.

According to investigators, a relative told Callaway about the alleged sexual abuse on May 27 after finding the girl's diary. Callaway asked for police assistance in moving her belongings out of Avett's home, but she never reported the alleged abuse.

Callaway allegedly sent Avett a text message three weeks later saying she was going to send a detailed document he needed to sign. In return, police said, she would not report the sexual abuse allegations.

Prosecutors contend that Callaway blackmailed Avett into giving up his $120,000 condominium, H3 Hummer and boat, and that she made him apply for a life insurance policy to benefit the child.

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

A day later, on 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 stopped by police in Maryland on July 12. Authorities said he had cashed out the proceeds of his retirement accounts, valued at more than $100,000.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Avett has not been charged with a sex crime because Callaway's failure to report the crime took away his office's ability to properly investigate the case. Her alleged blackmail also created credibility issues, he 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.

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