Hannah Wilson murder: Messel formally charged

Daniel Messel
Published:
Updated:
Daniel Messel has been formally charged in the murder of Indiana University student Hannah Wilson.

Messel, 49, is being held in the Brown County Jail without bond. A bond hearing is scheduled for May 15th. The trial has been set for July 22nd.

The court has appointed a public defender to represent Messel, who appeared in court Monday via closed circuit television.Messel answered the judge's questions in curt yes or no answers, showing little emotion. He accepted the court-entered plea of not guilty.

The evidence against Messel seems overwhelming, but Prosecutor Ted Adams isn't talking about it.

"Out of respect for the victim's family, we are keeping this one close to the vest," Adams said.

Court documents reveal that investigators found Messel's cell phone near the body of slain Indiana University student Hannah Wilson.

"It is scary the way people have gotten," said Richard Hoak.

Hoak's neighbor made the gruesome discovery of Wilson's body near Plum Creek Road on the morning of April 24. At first, she thought it was a pile of clothing. She took a closer look, called police, saying she drove to work praying for the girl.

While Wilson was found in the remote back woods of Brown County, it is also located near SR 45. The highway is closed to the north, but going south is a direct route to Bloomington.

After finding the body, court documents say deputies from the Brown County Sheriff's Department called Indiana State Police in to assist. According to court documents, Wilson's body had "significant trauma" to the head with a substantial amount of blood pooling under her head.

Police found a black cell phone in a red case near the feet of the body, later determined to belong to Messel. Messel has been arrested in Wilson's murder.

Wilson was at a party at a room in the Hilton Garden Inn in on the night of April 23, 2015, according to court documents. At some point her friends decided to go to Kilroy's Sports Bar, but determined that Wilson was too intoxicated to continue staying out with them. They talked about calling an Uber car when a taxi pulled up. Wilson got into the taxi alone and witnesses heard her provide her address. That was the last time anyone saw Wilson alive.

The cell phone led police to Messel. Investigators determined that Messel had not turned up at work Friday, which was unusual for him. He worked at Fine Print Printing in Bloomington. Police spoke to Messel's father, who told them he went to dinner with Messel Thursday night around 6:00 pm. According to Messel's father, his son went out to Yogi's Bar and Grill for trivia night with friends at 8:00 pm, something he does every Thursday night. His father told police that Messel did not return home from Yogi's Thursday night, which was unusual, as he typically would return home by midnight. A colleague confirmed that Daniel Messel had given him a ride home around 11:00 pm Thursday.

After learning of the missing persons report on Hannah Wilson, police retraced her steps Thursday night. Then they got a call from a neighbor that Daniel Messel had returned home.

When police arrived, Messel was carrying a plastic garbage bag full of clothing out of his home. Police collected it as evidence. They noticed that Messel had claw marks on his forearms. Police arrested Messel on the spot and transported him to the Bloomington State Police post.

Read the probable cause document here.

Investigators say they found blood spatter on the driver's side of Messel's Kia Sportage, and blood as well as a clump of long black hair on the console. 

Messel has faced charges before for violent crimes. Over the past two decades, police have arrested him for criminal recklessness, OWI and disorderly conduct. In 1996, a judge sentenced Messel to eight years in prison for battery with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious injury. Police arrested him after his girlfriend told police he battered her. Messel also faced charges for beating his grandmother and breaking bones in her face.

If convicted, Messel could be sentenced to 65 years in prison. His July trial will likely be delayed.

See all stories related to this case.