Police look for motive in Hannah Wilson murder investigation

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (April 29, 2015) - Investigators are still working to determine a motive in the murder of Indiana University student Hannah Wilson. Police still can't say if Wilson knew her alleged killer Daniel Messel. The 49-year-old suspect is facing murder charges.

Indiana State Police detectives are conducting the investigation as they focus on putting together a timeline of events. Investigators are relying on witness statements, background information and even surveillance video. ISP also obtained a search warrant to look through Messel's phone that was discovered at the crime scene.

"We're hopeful to get to the bottom of it, we want to know exactly like everybody else wants to know," said Sgt. Curt Durnil with ISP.

Wilson was out with friends the night of Thursday, April 23. Roommates and friends told police they attended a party at the Hilton Garden Inn before heading to Kilroy's Sports Bar. When the group arrived at Kilroy's the friends decided Wilson needed to go home because she had been drinking too much. Friends called a taxi for her and according to police she made it home.

"There's also reason for the detectives to believe that she made it into her home that night now where she comes into contact with Messel after that is unclear right now. We do know obviously that they did come into contact we just don't know when and where," said Sgt. Durnil.

The challenge for investigators is putting together what happened from the time Wilson returned home until her body was discovered on Friday.

The suspect, Messel, was out playing trivia with a co-worker Thursday night. Court documents show he gave that co-worker a ride home around 11 p.m. Messel did not return home or show up to work the next day. Police arrested Messel at the home where he lived with his father, he was holding a garbage bag full of clothes.

Wilson's body was discovered near Plum Creek, east of Lake Lemon in Brown County. The coroner confirmed that she was dead for as long as seven hours before her body was found.

Injuries to her hands suggesting she may have been trying to protect herself and trying to block some of the blows during the incident. There is no evidence to make obvious the type of weapon used in the murder, and there is no evidence that she was tied up or sexually assaulted.

Messel is a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history. Several previous cases involve battery charges. A 1992 court sentence included guidelines to seek treatment at the Madison State Hospital for an "anger control problem."

Court documents show a tendency toward violence. In August of 1995 he was accused of striking a victim with a 2x4 plank. Documents from a September 1991 case accused him of hitting, slapping, biting and pulling a victim's hair.

CBS4 talked an ex-girlfriend who pressed charges against Messel back in the late 80's. Michelle Day said she feared for her life during her four year relationship with him.

"It was a controlling, violent relationship. I was scared the whole time, on edge. I pressed charges on him once but they were dropped," said Day.

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