Nineteen-year-old David Eisenhauer was recently indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, abduction, and hiding the body of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. Natalie Keepers, also 19, was also charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide the body, the commonwealth’s attorney said.
Eisenhauer and Keepers are two former Virginia Tech students. Authorities have not provided clues about a motive. However, a friend of Eisenhauer told the Roanoke Times in May that Eisenhauer texted him about meeting a teenage girl at a party and later learning that she was underage. Bryce Dustin of Pulaski, whose phone was seized by police, said Eisenhauer feared the girl would “expose” him and asked if he knew where he could hide a body. Blacksburg police Detective Ryan Hite said Keepers told investigators she and Eisenhauer discussed several ways to kill Nicole: drugging her, making it look like suicide and knocking her unconscious and leaving her to die of exposure. They settled on what Keepers called “the official plan,” Hite said: “Grab her from behind, cover her mouth and slit her throat.”
Lovell was found dead last January, a few days after she went missing. Investigators say she had sneaked of the window of her house to rendezvous with Eisenhauer and Keepers. Lovell told 8-year-old friends before she vanished from her mother’s home that she planned to sneak out to meet her 18-year-old “boyfriend,” who she said was named David.
Lovell’s disappearance in January set off a massive, days-long search. The girl, who suffered from bullying at school and online over her weight and a tracheotomy scar, needed daily medication after surviving a liver transplant, lymphoma, and a drug-resistant bacterial infection as a child.
Trial dates in March were set in both cases. Eisenhauer and Keepers both face up to life in prison.
Neither face the death penalty because there’s no physical evidence they had sexual contact with Lovell the day she was killed. Prosecutors would have had to show he abducted her with the intent to sexually defile her in order to pursue a capital murder charge against him, according to the commonwealth’s attorney. Keepers claims she was not actually present during the killing but she participated in the bating and abduction because it made her feel like part of a secret club, calling Eisenhauer a “sociopath” and herself as a “sociopath in training,” according to investigators.