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Prosecutor: Messel Could Be Linked To Spierer’s Disappearance

Bloomington resident Daniel E. Messel in a booking photo shortly after Hannah Wilson's body was found in rural Brown County.

Photo: Indiana State Police

Bloomington resident Daniel E. Messel in a booking photo shortly after Hannah Wilson's body was found in rural Brown County.

The Brown County prosecutor who worked the case against Daniel Messel in the trial for the murder of Indiana University student Hannah Wilson in 2015 says the man may be responsible for the disappearance of IU student Lauren Spierer a few years earlier.

Messel is convicted of killing 22-year-old Wilson in Brown County in April 2015. Twenty-year-old Spierer went missing in June 2011.

In a press release, Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams says he has long believed Messel could be connected to Spierer’s disappearance.

“My admitted tunnel vision focuses on one individual who I convicted of brutally murdering Hannah Wilson,” Adams says in a press release. “The individual is Daniel Messel, a convicted murderer who demonstrated, in my opinion, a pattern; a signature known as a modus operandi. As a person who lived with the task of convicting Daniel Messel for the murder of Hannah N. Wilson, which consumed my thoughts for sixteen straight months, I developed an opinion based upon what I had learned of Daniel Messel’s modus operandi.”   

Adams says he is not involved in the Spierer investigation and says his belief is only an opinion.

“I am not an investigator, nor do I possess any formal training,” Adams says in the statement.

The Bloomington Police Department has said the investigation into Spierer’s disappearance is still active and not considered a “cold case.”

Read Adams’ complete statement below:

Messel Press Release 2017 by Indiana Public Media News on Scribd

 

Spierer Investigation

Spierer disappeared on the night of June 3, 2011. Investigators have worked to determine what happened to the college student, but her whereabouts remain unknown.

A possible break in the case came in Jan. 2016, when the FBI joined Bloomington Police in investigating a Martinsville property belonging to 35-year-old Justin Wagers. Cadaver dogs searched the location, but police have not announced the results of the ongoing investigation regarding the property.

Read the complete archive of stories regarding Spierer’s disappearance here

Wilson Investigation

Police quickly identified Messel as a suspect in Wilson’s death based on his cell phone, left near Wilson’s body. Shortly after investigators charged Messel with murder, Bloomington Police opened an “avenue of investigation” into a possible Spierer connection.

In 2016, a jury unanimously convicted Messel in the killing of Wilson. He is serving an 80-year prison sentence at the maximum-security Wabash Correctional Facility. In June 2017, the Indiana Court of Appeals denied Messel’s appeal for a new trial.

Read the complete archive of stories regarding Hannah Wilson here

Other Cases

Ted Adams and Hannah Wilson’s parents all believe Messel is responsible for other assaults.

2012 Assault: 

During the Wilson murder trial, a judge ruled Adams could not present testimony from woman who says Messel attempted to abduct and sexually assault her in Bloomington in Nov. 2012.

When the woman heard about Messel’s arrest for the Wilson murder, and saw his photo in the newspaper, she contacted police to tell them she believed he was the man who assaulted her three years earlier.

The judge heard testimony from the woman to determine if the evidence was admissible to the jury. But on the witness stand in 2016, she could not identify Messel as the man who assaulted her. The judge did not allow her to testify in front of the jury.

2012 Rape Charges:

Following the Wilson murder conviction, Monroe County investigators brought new charges against Messel regarding a rape in Bloomington in Aug. 2012.

During the Wilson murder trial in August 2016, a woman contacted police after reading an account of a victim’s testimony. The woman said she believed Messel was the man who attacked and raped her in Aug. 2012.

Indiana University Police used DNA evidence collected at the time of the attack and compared it to Messel’s DNA profile, finding it a match with one in 1.7 million odds. Last October, police officially charged Messel with rape, battery resulting in bodily injury and criminal confinement.

A Monroe County judge has granted several delays in the trial. A Jan. 5 pretrial hearing is scheduled to consider a change of venue.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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