Daniel Messel from Bloomington, Indiana was sentenced to 80 years in prison Thursday after he beat Indiana University student Hannah Wilson to death just two weeks before she was set to graduate. Messel was sentenced to 60 years for the April 2015 murder, plus an additional 20 for being a habitual criminal. Indiana law requires the 51-year-old murderer to serve at least three-quarters of his sentence.
Wilson’s body was found in 2015 in a vacant lot about 10 miles outside IU’s Bloomington campus. She was a 22-year-old psychology major. Messel was automatically linked to the crime after his cellphone was found under her body. But despite the glaring evidence, he maintained his innocence throughout the hearing.
“I didn’t kill Hannah,” he told the jury last month. “If it was my daughter, I’d want to know what really happened.” He also stated that the prosecution’s theory on the murder weapon — that he used a Maglite to beat her to death — was a “fantasy.” After five hours of deliberation, Messel was found guilty.
“You robbed Hannah of a lifetime ahead of her,” Robin Wilson, Hannah’s mother, said in court. “You robbed me of knowing how beautiful she will look on her wedding day.”
Previous to the murder, Messel was convicted of forgery in 1989, felony battery in 1990 and battery with a deadly weapon and battery resulting in serious injury in 1996. The last two charges resulted in an eight year prison sentence.
How Wilson and Messel first met remains unknown to authorities.