Boss of murder suspect in Hannah Wilson case never saw signs of violent behavior

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (April 28, 2015)-- The owner of a Bloomington print shop where murder suspect Daniel Messel worked for the last eight years says he never saw any violent tendencies in Messel.

“I had no idea that he was capable of doing such a thing,” said Joe Wray, owner of Fine Print Printing.

Daniel Messel

Daniel Messel

Wray says Daniel Messel, 49, has been a model employee since joining his company eight years ago.  He described him as a good and quiet employee.

“I didn’t see anything in him that was any sign of a violent person,” Wray said.  “Someone who would do something like he’s been accused of doing.”

Messel is accused of the brutal murder of 22-year old IU senior Hannah Wilson, whose body was found near Plum Creek in Brown County Friday morning.  She had sustained massive head trauma.  Messel’s cell phone was also found laying at Wilson’s feet.  Investigators also found blood and hair in Messel’s car, and claw marks on his arms.

“He always showed up to work,” Wray said.  “If he was going to be late or miss, he would call or text to let us know.  And he did not that day, so we were concerned that something was wrong.”

Investigators are still working to piece together gaps of information between late Thursday night and early Friday morning.  Hannah Wilson was last seen getting into a taxi in front of Kilroy’s Sports bar around 1 a.m. Friday.  Several of her friends had decided she was too drunk to continue going into the bar after leaving a party at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel.

The owner of E2 Taxi says Wilson was dropped off at her apartment in the 500 block of East 8th Street.

“Was put into the cab, one of our cabs by some of her friends,” said Sandra McClary, owner of E2 Taxi.  “And they gave our driver money to take her home, four blocks, and that’s exactly what we did.  He dropped her off and that’s all we know about it.”

It is not known if Wilson actually went into her apartment after getting out of the taxi.  Wilson’s friends told police she was found wearing the same clothing she had been wearing Thursday night.

Investigators say Messel had left Yogi’s Grill and bar a couple hours earlier, around 11 p.m. Thursday.  He drove a co-worker home from Yogi’s after the two men had spent time playing trivia at Yogi’s.  A manager at Yogi’s said Messel had also walked out with two women that night.  The women appeared to be older than college-age students.  It’s not clear if the women actually left the area with Messel.

According to Messel’s stepfather, he would normally come straight home after Thursday night trivia at Yogi’s.

Investigators believe Wilson was beaten to death sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Friday.

Messel’s violent criminal history bears resemblance to what investigators have uncovered about Wilson’s murder so far.  In August 1995, Messel was arrested and accused of violently beating a married couple in Bloomington.  Court documents say Messel became angry for unknown reasons and began punching a man at a home on West 9th Street.  When the man’s wife tried to stop Messel, he began to punch her.  He knocked her down, sat on her and began punching her face until he broke her nose.  He then walked outside, retrieved a 2 by 4, and started hitting the woman in the head.  The woman suffered severe cuts and artery damage to her head.

Messed later pleaded guilty to Battery With A Deadly Weapon and was sentenced to eight years in prison.  During his time behind bars, he received treatment for anger management and substance abuse.

Joe Wray says he never knew about Messel’s violent past because Messel came to him through a temp agency and he assumed the agency had vetted Messel’s background.

“I’m devastated the loss of that young woman, and feel so much pain for her family,” Wray said.  “And I’m so sorry that someone that was associated with my company is involved in this.”

Messel is formally charged with murder in Wilson's death.  He’s being held without bond in the Brown County jail.  Prosecutors have said they are playing the case “close to the vest” before going to trial, leaving many unanswered questions about how, when, where and why the murder occurred.

Indiana University is planning to observe a moment of silence for Hannah Wilson during graduation ceremonies on May 9.

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