A grand jury indicted two former Virginia Tech students on first-degree murder and other charges Tuesday in the high-profile killing of 13-year-old Blacksburg resident Nicole Lovell, a prosecutor said.
The Montgomery County, Va., grand jury returned the indictments against David Eisenhauer of Columbia, Md., and Natalie Keepers of Laurel, Md., both 19, after hearing a little more than an hour of testimony about the January slaying.
Authorities allege that Eisenhauer and Keepers hatched a plan to kill Lovell and that Eisenhauer lured Lovell from her Blacksburg home on a cold January night and stabbed her in a wooded area. Prosecutors allege that Eisenhauer and Keepers then dumped Lovell’s body.
Authorities have not disclosed a motive in the case, but two law enforcement officials previously told The Washington Post that Eisenhauer had an inappropriate relationship with Lovell. A friend said Lovell had hoped to run away with Eisenhauer and start a family.
Lovell’s disappearance on Jan. 27 prompted a major search and generated headlines across the nation. Her body was discovered Jan. 30 in an area not far from the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Prosecutors have said the freshmen engineering majors carefully plotted details of Lovell’s killing over the course of January, even discussing it at a local restaurant.
Authorities said Lovell and Eisenhauer met online, and a neighbor told the New York Times that Lovell showed her messages on the app Kik and said she was sneaking out that night to meet someone named David.
After Lovell vanished, prosecutors said detectives combed through her social media accounts, where Lovell had sought solace from bullying at her Blacksburg middle school. They discovered that Lovell had exchanged messages with Eisenhauer around 12:40 a.m. on the day she disappeared.
When confronted by authorities, Eisenhauer initially denied killing Lovell, but he later admitted his role in her slaying.
Prosecutors said Keepers’s role in killing Lovell was particularly chilling because she did not know the girl. At an earlier court hearing, one said Keepers was “excited to be part of something secretive.”
Eisenhauer was a standout runner in high school, and Keepers had dreams of working for NASA. They had become close friends at Virginia Tech.
The grand jury indicted Eisenhauer on counts of abduction and first-degree murder in Lovell’s killing and added a charge of concealing a body. Keepers was indicted on charges of being an accessory to first-
degree murder before and after the fact, as well as improperly disposing of a body. Their trial dates were set for next March.
An attorney for Eisenhauer did not immediately return a call for comment. Keepers’s attorney declined to comment.
Both could face up to life in prison if convicted on all charges. Both are being held without bond.