The Nesler Family's Tragic Past
When he was just 6 years old, Willy Nesler says he was raped and sexually molested. From that time on, his life was forever changed. Find out how the tragedies unfolded for Willy and his mother, Ellie.
Summer 1988 – Six-year-old Willy Nesler attends church camp and is allegedly molested and sodomized by camp employee Daniel Driver. Willy keeps his molestation a secret for a year before he telling an aunt.
April 1993 – During a break at Daniel's preliminary hearing for allegedly molesting Willy and four other boys, Willy's mother, Ellie, shoots Daniel five times in the head. Ellie is charged with voluntary manslaughter.
October 1993 – Ellie is diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. The judge postpones her sentencing so Ellie could have surgery and treatment.
January 1994 – Ellie is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
March 1995 – Ellie and her children, Willy and Rebecca, are guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show's How Far Would You Go to Protect Your Child? Oprah interviews Ellie via satellite while the children are in-studio in Chicago.
October 1997 – After serving nearly four years, Ellie strikes a plea bargain and is released from prison.
October 2001 – Ellie gives .06 grams of methamphetamine to an informant. Five days later, she buys 10,000 tablets from him and is arrested.
July 2002 – Ellie pleads guilty to drug charges and is sentenced to six years in prison.
June 2004 – Willy is now 23 years old and has a juvenile record. David Davis, a man who lives on his property, calls the police on Willy for allegedly stealing some tools. Willy punches David in front of three deputies, and pleads guilty to misdemeanor battery. He receives 60 days in jail but serves less than one month.
July 2004 – Less than an hour after being released from jail, Willy returns home and stomps on David's head. David never regains consciousness and dies the next day.
June 2005 –Willy is charged with first-degree murder. He's serving 28 years to life and will be eligible for parole in 2031.
June 2006 – Ellie is released from a woman's facility near Chowchilla, California.
December 2008 – At 56 years old, Ellie dies from breast cancer.
October 2010 – Rebecca returns to The Oprah Show to talk about how Willy's molestation affected her family. She visits Willy in jail for the first time in two years with NBC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.
More about the Neslers
The lasting effects of child molestation
Why Ellie killed her son's molester
How Rebecca felt about her brother's sexual abuse