VICTIM WAS YOUNG MOTHER OF THREE CHILDREN; HER PREMATURE INFANT WAS DELIVERED, BUT DIED THREE DAYS LATER
A Whitley County, KY. man has pleaded guilty in federal court to the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, exactly four years to the day she was murdered by him after he learned she had become an informant against him in a federal drug case.
Daniel Scott Nantz, 33, of Woodbine, KY., pleaded guilty to the intentional murder of a federal witness on Thursday, March 16, before U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Kentucky.
According to the investigation and plea agreement, Daniel Scott Nantz was engaged in methamphetamine trafficking throughout Whitley County from March of 2017 through March of 2019. In the Spring of 2019, some of Nantz’s methamphetamine sources of supply and co-conspirators were indicted by a federal grand jury.
One of these co-conspirators was Geri Danielle Johnson, 29, of Williamsburg, KY., who was seven months pregnant, and with whom Daniel Nantz had a romantic relationship. Geri Danielle Johnson also was a mother with three other biological children.
Prior to the murder, Daniel Nantz learned that Geri Danielle Johnson had provided a statement to law enforcement and had been offered the opportunity to cooperate against him. Daniel Scott Nantz discussed the fact he was a target of the federal methamphetamine trafficking investigation with Johnson. A handwritten note, written by Nantz, was recovered from the murder scene, which read “Funeral/fed’s pulled Geri out asking questions.”
Daniel Nantz had grown increasingly concerned that he too would be indicted for methamphetamine trafficking and that Geri Johnson would cooperate against him. He also sent text messages to Geri Johnson in the days leading up to the murder. On March 13, 2019, Daniel Nantz texted Geri Johnson “I’ll kill you [expletive].” And on March 14, 2019, Daniel Nantz texted Geri Johnson, “Your very dangerous for me. Very very dangerous.”
Then, on March 16, 2019, Geri Johnson was home, with Daniel Nantz’s minor children, at his trailer in Woodbine. Daniel Nantz arrived, ordered his children into their bedroom, and followed Geri Johnson outside the residence. Daniel Nantz then shot Geri Johnson twice with a .38 revolver. One round struck Geri Johnson in the back right shoulder and the other pierced her neck. The autopsy revealed the round through Geri Johnson’s neck ultimately caused her to asphyxiate on her blood.
After the shooting, Daniel Nantz drove Geri Johnson to Baptist Health hospital in Corbin, Kentucky, where she was pronounced dead. Johnson’s daughter was born, via emergency Cesarean section, at seven months gestation. The child, who was named Amelia Jo Bays Johnson, died three days later at UK Children’s Hospital in Lexington, due to the damage the infant suffered from the loss of oxygen and blood caused by her mother’s injuries.
Daniel Nantz was named in a seven-count indictment in July 2019 by a federal grand jury for charges including murder, kidnapping, two counts of conspiracy to distribute 500 or more grams of a substance containing methamphetamine, two counts of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possession of a firearm knowing that he had previously been convicted in a court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
In an order filed October 21, 2022, Daniel Nantz’s trial was scheduled to begin May 8, 2023. Three weeks had been set aside for the trial.
Earlier that October 2022, Daniel Nantz’s father,William Nantz was sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to retaliating against a witness. The elder Nantz admitted to threatening an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in October 2021 as part of this case.
The Nantz investigation was conducted by the federal ATF and Kentucky State Police.
Daniel Scott Nantz is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17, 2023. He faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna E. Reed in the case against Daniel Nantz. The case was prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program (PSN), which is a nationwide, crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities. It involves a comprehensive approach to public safety — one that includes investigating and prosecuting crimes, along with prevention and reentry efforts.In the Eastern District of Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.