Montgomery County

DA: Michaela MacVilla murdered; Man charged

Indictment handed up Thursday morning
Michaela MacVilla (inset), St. Johnsville (background)
Michaela MacVilla (inset), St. Johnsville (background)

JOHNSTOWN — A man who was arrested on weapons charges as police investigated the disappearance of Michaela MacVilla has been charged with killing her, Fulton County District Attorneys officials announced Thursday.

Daniel A. Nellis Sr., 45, was indicted on one count of second-degree murder, accused of shooting MacVilla, 21, in the head with a handgun in late September.

MacVilla was last seen alive leaving a Stewart’s Shop on West Main Street in St. Johnsville at about 12:10 a.m. on Sept. 25. She was found dead Oct. 2 in heavy brush on a property in Oppenheim, state police have said. The property’s owner discovered her body.

Also Today: MacVilla family on indictment: ‘Immediate relief’, Nov. 15, 2018

The indictment places the location of MacVilla’s death as Oppenheim, Fulton County. The indictment, however, only provides a range of dates for the time of her death, between Sept. 25 and Sept. 30 — dates that coincide with MacVilla’s disappearance and Nellis’ later arrest on weapons charges. 

Nellis has been in custody since his Sept. 30 arrest.

CBS6 Facebook Live from afternoon press conference:

The sealed indictment was handed up Thursday morning in Fulton County Court, where Nellis was arraigned, court officials said. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.

The state police and other law enforcement held a brief press conference Thursday afternoon. 


Daniel A. Nellis, Sr. (Fulton County District Attorney)

During the search for MacVilla, investigators arrested Nellis on felony weapons counts. State police said at the time that those charges were unrelated to the MacVilla investigation. Troopers arrested Nellis on the weapons charges on Sept. 30, two days before MacVilla’s body was found.

Nellis’ attorney Brian Toal said late last month that Nellis voluntarily submitted a DNA sample to investigators looking into her death. Toal said at the time that he believed the sample would show Nellis had no involvement in her death.

Also Today: MacVilla family on indictment: ‘Immediate relief’, Nov. 15, 2018

Toal could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

In addition to the murder count, Nellis faces two counts of third-degree criminal possession of  a weapon, which accuses him of possessing the murder weapon.

He also faces one count of first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, accused of possessing 10 or more pistols or revolvers at 53 Dolge Ave., Dolgeville.


If convicted of the murder charge, Nellis would face up to 25 years to life in state prison; if convicted of the first-degree weapons possession count, would face up to 25 years in state prison.

Nellis also previously faced three misdemeanor weapons possession counts related to an unmarked rifle with scope, a .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, all recovered from a County Route 108 residence Sept. 30, according to the police allegations filed then. He also faced a violation marijuana charge related to that date and address.

The misdemeanor weapons counts resulted in charges due to a prior Nellis felony conviction from August 2000, according to the allegations filed in court.

Newspaper records indicate his sentence then was notable in that days before he was to surrender on the crack cocaine sale case, the then-27-year-old barricaded himself in a home with three family members for seven hours before surrendering. He received 1 to 3 years in prison.

Daniel Nellis indictment by Steven Cook on Scribd


Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie

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