An ex-con is being held in the fatal beating of an Indiana University student whose body was found two days ago in a rural area not long after she disappeared.

Daniel Messel, 49, was in police custody Sunday, held on the preliminary charge of murder in the death of 22-year-old IU senior Hannah Wilson.

Wilson’s body was found Friday, the same day she was reported missing, in Brown County, about an hour’s drive from the IU campus in Bloomington. An autopsy Saturday showed she died of several blows to her head with an unknown weapon, Fox 59 reported.

The station said the young woman suffered hand wounds, indicating a struggle as she tried to defend herself from the killer’s blows.

It also said the murder took place around 1:30 a.m. Friday based on the coroner’s findings.

Police have not disclosed a motive or said whether the student knew her accused killer.

Sky News reported that Wilson's body was found clothed and there were no signs of sexual abuse.

Wilson’s sorority at IU, Gamma Phil Beta, issued a statement after police found her body.

“The entire Gamma Phi Beta family mourns the tragic loss of Hannah. She was a sister, friend and cherished member who will be genuinely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hannah’s friends, family and the women of Beta Phi Chapter.”

Her mother and sister attended a vigil in her memory Saturday at the Indiana Elite Cheer Center cheerleading gym in Noblesville.

Another vigil for her on the IU campus drew 1,500 students.

The Indy Star said Messel was sent to prison for eight years in 1996 after an arrest for battery.

The paper said news articles showed Messel had a 1991 arrest for assaulting a girlfriend and a 1989 arrest for assaulting his grandmother and breaking her nose.

He also had a 2006 conviction for disorderly conduct.

Her death came on the weekend IU holds the Little 500 bicycle race. The school is holding the race Sunday and, in Wilson's memory, participants will ride with purple and green ribbons tied to their bike frames.     

The Associated Press contributed to this report.