Virginia Tech student arrested in stabbing death of 13-year-old: ‘The truth will set me free’

David Eisenhauer is pictured in this undated handout booking photo
Thomson Reuters

A 13-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped by a Virginia Tech student was stabbed to death, Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt told the girl’s family on Tuesday.

The engineering student, David Eisenhauer, was taken into police custody after he was charged with abducting and killing 13-year-old Nicole Lovell.

Natalie Keepers, another engineering student at Virginia Tech, is also in police custody. She has been accused of helping to dispose of Lovell’s body, police said.

Eisenhauer released a brief statement on Tuesday, saying only “I believe the truth will set me free.”

The arrests came on Saturday after police, following a four-day search, found Lovell’s remains in North Carolina, about 90 miles (145 km) south of Blacksburg, Virginia, where her home and the university are located.

Lovell had been missing from her family’s home since Wednesday. A family member told the Roanoke Times it appeared she had climbed out of a first-floor window.

It was not immediately clear how she crossed paths with David Eisenhauer, 18, a freshman from Columbia, Maryland, and member of the university’s cross-county team.

Natalie Marie Keepers is pictured in this undated handout booking photo provided by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, January 31, 2016.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office/Reuters

But police in Blacksburg, about 40 miles (64 km) west of Roanoke, Virginia, said investigators had determined the two teens became acquainted before her disappearance, likely via social media. Eisenhauer took advantage of that relationship to abduct and kill Lovell, they said in a statement.

Eisenhauer was arrested at his campus residence on Saturday, first charged with abduction and then accused of murder after Lovell’s remains were discovered near a highway in Surry County, North Carolina.

A star Maryland high school athlete before coming to Virginia Tech, Eisenhauer was named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Indoor Track Athlete of the year, according to a 2015 profile in the Baltimore Sun.

“All of my friends that knew him, that graduated with him, as well as everyone on the team, we’re just in total shock about this entire thing,” Joe Keating, a high school classmate of Eisenhauer’s, told the Baltimore Sun over the weekend.

“We would never have seen this coming,” said Keating, who was the co-captain of the track team alongside Eisenhauer. He went on to say he was “appalled” by the news, according to The Sun.

Natalie Marie Keepers, 19, a sophomore at Virginia Tech from Laurel, Maryland, was arrested on Sunday and charged with improper disposal of a dead body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony.

David Eisenhauer.

“I’m so in shock I know nothing more to say,” the victim’s father, David Lovell, said on Facebook. “I’m broken!”

Family members had pleaded for Nicole Lovell’s return, saying she was without the prescription medicine she needed daily after undergoing a liver transplant.

Authorities said they were working to piece together the events leading to Lovell’s death.

A Virginia Tech spokeswoman would not comment on the enrollment status of Eisenhauer and Keepers, but the university said in a statement it had the authority to suspend students immediately on an interim basis in the case of a felony arrest.

Hundreds of students in the university’s Corps of Cadets, along with students and researchers using drones, assisted in the search for Lovell, the school said.