UPDATED: Feb. 3, 2015
13-year-old Nicole Lovell, whose death led to the arrest of two Virginia Tech students, was fatally stabbed the day she disappeared, a prosecutor said in a Feb. 2 press conference.
The victim’s mother, Tammy Weeks, spoke to the press for the first time since Lovell’s disappearance at a Blacksburg Police Department news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt also spoke, stating that early examinations indicate stabbing as Lovell’s cause of death.
“Local, state and federal investigators assigned to this case continue to make progress with reconstructing the timeline of those two individuals’ movements and activities leading up to Nicole’s abduction and murder,” said Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson.
David Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with abduction and murder in Nicole’s death. Natalie Keepers, 19, will face the latest charge, in addition to previous charges including illegally disposing of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony. Both are students at Virginia Tech.
Natalie Keepers has been newly charged with one count of accessory before the fact; the sentence carries 20 years to life in prison. She was previously arraigned on one count of accessory after the fact.
Mary Pettit also, a Montgomery County prosecutor, said Keepers is additionally being charged with accessory before the fact in the murder after previously being arraigned on one count of accessory after the fact.
The new sentence carries 20 years to life in prison.
At the press conference, Weeks discussed her daughter’s extensive medical history: Lovell received a liver transplant when she was 10 months old, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age four and was given a one-percent chance of survival after slipping into a coma for six months.
“Coley once again beat the odds,” Weeks said. “Coley had a passion for pandas, music, dancing, dreamed of being on American Idol someday. Her favorite color was blue. Nicole was a very lovable person. Nicole touched many people throughout her short life.”
Unable to finish her statement, Nicole’s youth pastor Josh Blankenship finished Weeks’ speech.
“Our hearts still ache in sadness and secret tears still flow; what it meant to lose you, no one will ever know,” Blankenship said.
Authorities continue to investigate, pursuing over 400 leads generated from public tips.
“We will not let this violence define us. This is still the place of anywhere else in this earth that I would live, that I would raise a family and that I would send my children to college,” Wilson said.
Eisenhauer and Keepers will return to court late next month.
Funeral arrangements for Lovell will be released later today by the Blacksburg police.
Two Virginia Tech students were charged with murder after authorities found the remains of 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell, who disappeared from her house early in the morning on Jan. 27.
Virginia Tech freshman David Eisenhauer, 18, was arrested the night of Jan. 29 in connection with Lovell’s disappearance. Eisenhauer was originally charged with one count of felony abduction and has since been charged with first-degree murder. He continues to be held without bail at Montgomery County Jail.
Blacksburg Police arrested sophomore engineering student Natalie Keepers, 19, on Jan. 31. Keepers is also being held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail on charges of improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony.
Blacksburg Chief of Police Anthony Wilson said Eisenhauer was a suspect early on but would not say what led to him being considered a suspect. Eisenhauer did not tell police where the body was located. It has yet to be determined how Lovell and Eisenhauer met.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, investigators have determined that Eisenhauer and Nicole were acquainted prior to her disappearance. 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,” Blacksburg police said in a statement.
According to Wilson, authorities found Lovell’s body on Route 89 just inside the North Carolina border.
Lovell was last seen between 7 p.m. and midnight Wednesday at her home in Blacksburg, Virginia, police said. According to the Roanoke Times, Lovell’s family found a dresser pushed against her bedroom door and said the middle-school student probably climbed out the apartment window.
The search ended on Jan. 30 when Lovell’s body was found about 100 miles away from home.
Virginia Tech president Timothy Sands said the case left the school community “in a state of shock and sadness.”
“Speaking on behalf of our community, let me say that our hearts go out to Nicole’s family and friends,” Sands said in a statement posted to the school’s website.
Wilson said the Blacksburg community is struggling to heal after Lovell’s death.
“We have some very wounded folks in this community and and please show them some respect,” Wilson said. “We will continue to be very transparent with you during this investigation but please remember these are the kinds of crimes that rip communities apart.”
Lovell’s remains have been transported to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke for an autopsy.
Online News Editor, Maura Mazurowski
Maura is a junior cinema and journalism student. She’s interested in combining investigative journalism with filmmaking, and is a contributing writer for the online publications Elite Daily and Literally Darling. Before transferring to VCU, Maura was an editor for the student newspaper at Virginia Tech, the Collegiate Times. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Portfolio