A Scottish Man Who Pretended to Die in California Is Arrested for Rape.
According to the man’s son, his father drowned. He was later apprehended in Colorado and extradited to Scotland, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison this week.
It is not uncommon for police to receive calls about people in distress at California’s Monastery Beach — locally dubbed Mortuary Beach due to its deadly undertow and steep drop into the ocean.
As a result, when a teenager reported that his father had not returned from a late afternoon swim there in February 2019, authorities immediately dispatched divers, a helicopter, and a drone to search the chilly waters off Carmel, just south of Monterey Bay. However, the reported disappearance of Kim Avis, a 57-year-old Scottish man, struck investigators as suspicious from the start.
They were correct.
Mr. Avis was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week in a Scottish court on charges of rape and sexual assault, a sentence investigators said he attempted to avoid by faking his death on the coast of one of California’s most scenic beaches.
Mr. Avis’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Cmdr. Derrel Simpson of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the waters were cool on the evening Mr. Avis’s son called 911 to report his father missing. According to the teenager, he and his father had traveled to California about two weeks prior for vacation.
The son stated that they intended to check into a hotel late that day, and thus he stayed on the shore while his father went for a swim wearing shorts and a neck lanyard holding his passport, Commander Simpson stated.
However, as officials searched the area over the next few days, certain elements of the story began to unravel.
The hotel where the son claimed they stayed was not able to locate them. The son stated that they camped following their stay at the hotel, but Sgt. David Murray, one of the investigators, stated that they lacked the necessary gear. Additionally, the son stated to investigators that he was on shore looking after their belongings and did not see his father wade in.
“No one saw him enter,” Sergeant Murray stated. “We were unaware of the ‘why.’ Numerous scenarios were conceivable.”
At Monastery Beach, named after the Carmelite monastery across Highway 1, swells and currents are at their peak in the winter.
When the authorities contacted Mr. Avis’s relatives in Scotland, the investigation took a turn for the better. They were informed by relatives that he was out on bail and scheduled to appear in court on March 11 on rape charges, Sergeant Murray said.
“We were certain that there was a reason for staging his death,” he stated.
Thus, on Feb. 27, what began as a “missing persons” search devolved into a “suspicious circumstance” report.
Investigators sent out a message of caution to state and federal authorities, informing them that Mr. Avis was in the wind. Suggestions poured in regarding purported sightings.
Sergeant Murray explained, “We assigned some people to handle all of the calls we were receiving.” “He reminded me of the Loch Ness monster. As if you were a sasquatch.”
On March 5, 2019, a week after Mr. Avis’s son reported him missing, a critical lead came from a woman who met Mr. Avis in a casual setting in the Big Sur area. She discovered through news reports that the man wanted was the same as the one she had referred to as the “crazy Scotsman” when she entered his telephone number into her cellphone.
Commander Simpson stated that she described the vehicle he was driving.
Additionally, investigators tracked bank transactions, and the investigation crossed state lines into Colorado.
Mr. Avis managed to stay ahead of the pursuit for a time. He claimed to have traveled to over ten states in the Western and Southern regions of the United States, donning disguises, sleeping in various locations, and hiding in the mountains, according to an email from the US Marshals Service.
However, more than 1,000 miles east of the beach where he pretended to die, his accent revealed him.
On July 23, a resident of Colorado Springs reported to police that a man with a “British or Scottish accent” was acting suspiciously and assuming a false identity. The link was sealed with a photograph and description of the Ford Transit van he was driving.
Mr. Avis was located in a motel room in Colorado Springs on July 26, five months after he was initially reported missing.
Mr. Avis was arrested without incident in the parking lot by US Marshals while walking to his van, although he later admitted he considered fleeing before being handcuffed.
Mr. Avis was extradited to Scotland, where he was convicted of 14 charges, including rape and sexual assault, in April. Mr. Avis, who used to sell jewelry from a market stall, had a controlling and dominant personality, Judge Craig Sandison stated.
“You manipulated, managed, and ultimately coerced women in your immediate vicinity into becoming objects for your own sexual gratification,” he said as he handed down the 15-year sentence.
The Coast Guard had long since concluded its investigation in the United States. “Case closed,” reads the file on Mr. Avis. “Hoax.”