Details scant in Virginia girl’s death; police, mom to speak

Blacksburg police will hold a news conference at 2 p.m.

In this Jan. 31, 2016 photo, Blacksburg Lieutenant Mike Albert announces that Virginia Tech student Natalie Keepers was arrested in connection to the death of Nicole Madison Lovell, in Blacksburg, Va. Keepers faces charges of improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony. (Edmee Rodriguez/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

BLACKSBURG, VA (AP) — David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers were promising engineering students at Virginia Tech, described by those who knew them as ambitious and focused. Nicole Madison Lovell was an energetic 13-year-old who bore emotional and physical wounds, suffering from bullying over the scars from her liver transplant. How their lives intersected in tragedy remains a mystery.

Investigators have released no details about what happened to Nicole after she climbed out her bedroom window last week, including how, when or where she was killed. Neither have they announced what connected her to a college freshman five years older, or how Keepers allegedly got involved in hiding her body.

In this Jan. 31, 2016 photo, troopers prepare to search the Duck Pond in Blacksburg, Va. The investigation continued in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell as a state police search and recovery team searched the pond for evidence on the Virginia Tech Campus. (Edmee Rodriguez/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
In this Jan. 31, 2016 photo, troopers prepare to search the Duck Pond in Blacksburg, Va. The investigation continued in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell as a state police search and recovery team searched the pond for evidence on the Virginia Tech Campus. (Edmee Rodriguez/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Blacksburg police will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday, they announced in an email. Nicole’s mother, Tammy Weeks, will speak to reporters then, she told an Associated Press reporter who knocked on the door of her Blacksburg apartment, a couple of blocks from the Virginia Tech campus.

Weeks shared two photos of Nicole: one when she’s about 10, sticking out her tongue and wearing a shirt with an actor from the “Twilight” movies; the other showing her in a Mountain Dew hat and Dr. Pepper shirt last summer.

“She loved Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper,” Weeks said sadly. She didn’t give other comments or discuss the focus of the news conference.

Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with kidnapping and murdering Nicole, whose body was found by police Saturday just across the state line in Surry County, North Carolina. Keepers, 19, is charged with improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony.

Nichole Madison Lovell (Photo via WSLS)
Nicole Madison Lovell (Photo via WSLS)

The students made their initial court appearances Monday. They said little, and their lawyers have declined to comment.

Blacksburg police said they have evidence showing Eisenhauer knew the girl before she disappeared Wednesday but have not elaborated.

“Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her. Keepers helped Eisenhauer dispose of Nicole’s body,” a police statement said.

The arrests of the two engineering majors shocked people who knew them in high school in Maryland, where they lived near each other. Neither had prior criminal records, police said.

“We had no reason to think he would be unsuccessful in his goals because he was very focused,” said Principal James LeMon at Wilde Lake High School, where Eisenhauer graduated last year.

David Eisenhauer, left, and Natalie Keepers, in their booking photos (Source: Blacksburg Police Department)
David Eisenhauer, left, and Natalie Keepers, in their booking photos (Source: Blacksburg Police Department)

Eisenhauer, named Boys Indoor Track Performer of the Year by The Baltimore Sun last March, chose Virginia Tech to pursue engineering while competing with the Hokies’ top college runners, LeMon said.

Keepers interned at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, led science experiments at her church’s Bible school and hoped to build a future in aerospace or ocean engineering, her online resume said.

“It’s just very, very surprising,” saidher principal, Marcia Leonard at Hammond High School.

Nicole was 5 years old when she survived a liver transplant, MRSA (a drug-resistant bacterial infection) and lymphoma, her mother told The Washington Post . 

“God got her through all that, and she fought through all that, and he took her life,” Weeks said.

In this Jan. 31, 2016 photo, trooper Christopher Grzelak puts on his flippers as he gets ready to dive into the Duck Pond, in Blacksburg, Va. The investigation continued in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell as a state police search and recovery team searched the pond for evidence on the Virginia Tech Campus. (Edmee Rodriguez/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
In this Jan. 31, 2016 photo, trooper Christopher Grzelak puts on his flippers as he gets ready to dive into the Duck Pond, in Blacksburg, Va. The investigation continued in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell as a state police search and recovery team searched the pond for evidence on the Virginia Tech Campus. (Edmee Rodriguez/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

 

Nicole didn’t like going to school because girls called her fat and talked about her transplant scars. “It got so bad I wouldn’t send her,” Weeks said, but the bullying continued on social media.

Davy Draper, a close family friend, called Nicole an energetic and outspoken girl who got along with everyone.

“She was an awesome little girl. She was an angel here on Earth, and she’s an angel now,” Draper said Sunday.

Nicole’s classmates were grieving Monday at Blacksburg Middle School, where 10 counselors were brought in to supportthem, Montgomery County schools spokeswoman Brenda Drake said.

Drake said privacy laws prevent her from commenting on Nicole’s experience, but she said the school has anti-bullying and Internet safety programs.

On the Virginia Tech campus, state police divers searched a pond but authorities would not say what they were looking for.

Abbey Workmeister lives in the same dormitory as Eisenhauer — Ambler Johnston Hall, the co-ed residence hall where the first two people were killed in the 2007 campus massacre that left 32 dead.

“From what we’ve heard, he really stayed in his room a lot,” Workmeister, a freshman biochemistry major from Cumberland, Maryland, said of Eisenhauer.

Logan Fry, a sophomore hospitality major from Roanoke who lives on the same floor as Eisenhauer and also ran track in high school, said Nicole’s death and the arrest of a dorm neighbor was frightening.

“Like, it definitely could have been me,” she said.

A number listed for Eisenhauer’s parents in Columbia, Maryland, rang busy. A message left at Keepers’ home in Laurel, Maryland, was not returned.

___

Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Maryland, and Larry O’Dell and Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the name of the student who lives in the same dormitory as Eisenhauer is Abbey Workmeister, not Abby.

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