MacVilla family reacts to murder, weapons indictment

November 16, 2018 09:43 AM

Michaela MacVilla's family is breathing a sigh of relief after state police announced an Oppenheim man has been indicted in her murder.

The 21-year-old St. Johnsville woman went missing while walking home from her late night shift at Stewart's in September. She was found dead on a nearby property a little over a week later.


Daniel Nellis Sr., 45, has been indicted on one count of second degree murder and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in connection to Michaela's death. There are still lots of unanswered questions, but Michaela's family said they hope this indictment settles some of the fear in their community.

“Today's been a good day,” Michaela’s aunt Cora Murray said. “Today's been one of the better ones."

Michaela family said news of Nellis' indictment doesn't bring them any closure, but it does provide a little comfort.

"It does help us to breathe a little bit easier knowing that the person responsible is behind bars and can't hurt anybody else,” Murray said.

Michaela’s grandmother Jeanne Carey believes closure will come after the court proceedings.

"I don't think any real closure is going to come until things are sentenced, finalized, there's just still too many questions for us,” Carey said.

State police arrested Nellis on weapons charges on September 30, but he wasn't indicted in Fulton County Court until Thursday.

State police in Latham said autopsy results show Michaela was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head sometime between Sept. 25 and Sept. 30. They said the weapons charges Nellis faced on Sept. 30 are considered "overlapping evidence" with the weapons charges included in Thursday's indictment.

Police haven't given a motive for the murder. Neither investigators, nor Michaela's family could say if the two knew one another before she was killed.

"We have no knowledge whatsoever as to who Michaela knew,” Murray said, “She may have crossed paths with him at Stewart's but we don't know if she knew him personally."

State police said their investigation remains open and active at this time. They're urging the St. Johnsville community to stay vigilant. They would not comment on whether that meant there is another suspect in the case.

In the meantime Michaela's family has a request.

"You know everybody has been putting out blue lights and candles and so forth, I know personally I intend to keep mind going until whoever did this is behind bars permanently,” Carey said.

"We have absolute faith that justice will be served in the end,” Murray said.

State police are asking anyone with information to contact Troop G in Latham.

There's also an active GoFundMe page for the MacVilla family. Michaela's parents have taken time off from work while they grieve the loss of not one, but two daughters. Michaela's 24-year-old sister Kimberlee died unexpectedly over the summer.

Nellis is being held in Fulton County Jail without bail until his next court appearance in January.


Emily Burkhard

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