Five years later, no resolution to case

JOHNSTOWN – A high-profile missing-person case in this city is five years old today, and there still is no resolution to it.

City police and family members of city resident Kellisue M. Ackernecht remain frustrated over continued efforts to find the woman.

“We have no evidence of a crime to this date,” Johnstown Police Chief Mark Gifford said.

Ackernecht was 36 years old and living with her husband and daughter at 330 W. Main St. when she vanished the night of Sept. 30, 2008.

Police said she was last seen leaving her job as a night-shift manager at the Rite Aid pharmacy on Route 30 in Amsterdam about 9:40 p.m. But the 1998 Saturn sedan she was driving to her home was found engulfed in fire by a passerby about 1:45 a.m. Oct. 1 in Frog Hollow. That is a wooded neighborhood at the bottom of the Montgomery Street hill on the west side of the city.

Jayson Ackernecht reported his wife missing to authorities around 2 a.m. The Ackernechts lived together with their young daughter a few blocks from the fire scene.

Kellisue’s husband couldn’t be reached for comment recently, but said in an August 2012 interview with The Leader-Herald that he never harmed his wife.

Gifford, who was a lieutenant involved in the case five years ago, said numerous people have been extensively interviewed in the case.

“We still get tips,” the police chief said.

People with information about the Ackernecht case may call city police at 736-4021. People with information on any Fulton County case also can call the Fulton County Crime Tips Hotline at 736-5561.

Gifford said he understands Kellisue’s family still wants answers after five years.

“My feeling is they’re not very satisfied,” Gifford said. “They’re probably frustrated.”

The public can follow the case online at

When she went missing, Kellisue was described by police and family as a white female, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 135 pounds, with short brown, naturally curly hair.

Johnstown police officers have gone to Syracuse and other areas following tips and have been in contact with the FBI. The department used a psychic early in the case, but nothing was found. Hundreds of leads have been followed. City police have conducted many searches, including one with the assistance of a state police helicopter over the wooded area near the Ackernecht home. Officers have searched homes, they say. Police and forest rangers did several foot searches with cadaver dogs. Police and the St. Johnsville Dive Team also have combed the banks of the Cayadutta Creek, following it downstream toward Sammonsville.

The missing woman’s family has conducted its own searches and vigils in both Fulton and Montgomery counties, and has tried to publicize the case through national media outlets.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Tom Kilcullen of Canajoharie, one of Kellisue’s brothers, said of the case recently.

Kilcullen said the family and friends of his sister are planning no vigil to mark the five-year date of Kellisue’s dissapearance. But he said he thinks about his sister “more and more” this time of year, and her disappearance continues to fuel frustration over unanswered questions.

“It seems ridiculous,” Kilcullen said. “I’m very aggravated.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at