According to an autopsy report, 22-year-old Hannah Wilson died from blunt force trauma after being struck in the back of the head three or four times.
She also suffered superficial injuries to her hands and arms from attempting to ward off those blows. There was no sign of sexual assault.
Wilson’s body was discovered around 8:30 a.m. Saturday after a woman driving on Plum Creek Road saw Wilson’s body face-down in a vacant lot at State Road 45 and Plum Creek.
Wilson had been dead for 10 hours or less when she was found, according to Brown County Coroner Earl Piper.
Piper, the Brown County coroner, estimated that Wilson, who was first reported missing Friday, had been dead four to seven hours when law enforcement was notified. That would mean between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. Friday.
Piper said no weapons were found at the crime scene.
Wilson, who is originally from Fishers, was a senior at Indiana University and a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She had been reported missing on Thursday.
Police have arrested 49-year-old Daniel E. Messell of Bloomington and are holding him on a preliminary charge of Murder. Messel has a criminal history.
State Police spokesman said Saturday that no new details on the case will be released until a probable cause affidavit is submitted to the Brown County prosecutor. The spokesman said the investigation is ongoing and that anyone with information about Wilson’s “activities prior to being reported missing” should call the State Police at 812-332-4411.
Messel has had a violent criminal past, including arrests for battery.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1996, after pleading guilty to battery with a deadly weapon and battery causing serious bodily injury.
Messel also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 2006. In separate incidents in 1994, he pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.
The Bloomington Herald-Times reported that in 1991, Messel was arrested on charges of confinement and domestic battery after a girlfriend made a report to police. In 1989, the newspaper said Messel was arrested after battering his grandmother and breaking a bone in her face.
Messel also filed for bankruptcy in 2013, citing more than $47,000 in debt.
State Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, said she has fielded calls from constituents about a possible connection between Wilson’s disappearance and the Uber ride-sharing service, which had been holding a free promotion on the IU campus.
The investigation has been in joint cooperation with the Bloomington Police Department who had taken a Missing Persons report regarding Miss Wilson earlier Friday afternoon.
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office along with the Brown County Prosecutor and the Brown County Coroner are also involved in the investigation that continues at this time.
The Indiana State Police stresses the filing of criminal charges is only the beginning of the process and Mr. Messell is presumed innocent until and unless guilt is proven in court.
“The entire IU Bloomington community mourns the tragic death of Hannah Wilson,” IU Communications Director Mark Land said in an email. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Hannah’s family and friends during this unspeakably sad time.”