BLACKSBURG, Va. — Law enforcement officials on Sunday announced the arrest of a second Virginia Tech student in the abduction and death of a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl.
Blacksburg Police Lt. Mike Albert said that Natalie Marie Keepers, 19 of Laurel, Md., was arrested on felony charges Sunday morning for helping to dispose of the remains of Nicole Madison Lovell, whose body was found just across the North Carolina border in Surry County.
Albert said that Keepers, who was arrested off campus, also was charged with a misdemeanor for her accessory role in the crime after Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer allegedly abducted and killed the 13 year-old.
Albert said that police have determined that Eisenhauer knew Lovell but declined to comment on the nature of their relationship.
Eisenhauer and Keepers, who are both general engineering students at Virginia Tech, are being held without bond at the Montgomery County, Va., jail.
Eisenhauer, 18, of Columbia, Md., was charged Saturday morning with abduction. The first-degree murder charge was added later Saturday after Virginia State Police located the remains of Nicole Madison Lovell on Route 89, in Surry County, N.C., along the Virginia border, Blacksburg police said.
Police said the remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Roanoke overnight, for an autopsy.
Eisenhauer was arrested without incident early Saturday at his residence in Blacksburg, police said.
“This has been an extremely fast investigation within the just past 12 hours,” Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson said in a news release. “And we still have a great deal to do as there are multiple interviews to conduct and evidence” to collect and analyze “as we reconstruct the timeline of events leading up to Nicole’s tragic death.”
Nicole was reported missing Wednesday and was last seen in Blacksburg between midnight and 7 a.m., police said. A report issued after her disappearance said she had undergone a liver transplant and required prescription medicine daily.
Nicole’s mother, Tammy Weeks, said in an interview Sunday that police came to her house about 2 p.m. Saturday to tell her that her daughter’s body had been found.
“I’m shocked,” said Weeks, 43, a cashier at a local department store. “I’m hurt. It’s unbelievable.”
Weeks said her daughter had survived a liver transplant, MRSA and lymphoma when she was 5.
“God got her through all that, and she fought through all that, and he took her life,” she said. “That evil bastard took her life.”
Nicole’s mother found a night stand pushed up against the girl’s bedroom door, and her family thinks she climbed out a window.
“She picked it up and put it against the door,” Weeks said. “The window was cracked when I went in.”
Nicole, who was the youngest of two brothers and one sister, was in seventh grade at Blacksburg Middle School.
“She was a typical student,” Weeks said. “She didn’t like going to school because she was bullied. She was telling me that girls were saying she was fat and talking about her scars from her transplant.”
Nicole often cried to stay home from school, her mother said. “We discussed it with teachers, but it got worse. It got so bad I wouldn’t send her.”
But the bullying, her mother said, continued on social media. “They can’t control those kids on social media,” Weeks said.
Weeks said she was told that her daughter met Eisenhauer online a few weeks ago. “That’s all I know,” she said. “It was some off-the-wall site I never heard of.”
School officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Several agencies are assisting Blacksburg police in the investigation, including the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI Field Office in Charlotte and the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Blacksburg police said that new developments in the inquiry late Friday had led to Eisenhauer and to his arrest Saturday at his residence on campus.
The developments were unspecified, and it was also unknown what led searchers to the body.
Eisenhauer, an engineering student, was an elite athlete and track star at Wilde Lake High School in Howard County, Md. In 2014, while he was a junior, he won the Class 3A Maryland title for the 3,200-meter race, according to a Washington Post account.
Joe Keating, who was Eisenhauer’s co-captain on the Wilde Lake cross-country team, said members of the track team were dismayed to hear the news of his arrest.
“We’re all just in utter shock. We can’t get our heads around it,” Keating said.
Eric Smart, who was also on the cross-country team, said the accusations against Eisenhauer were devastating. He said that his former teammate was focused on academics and his career and that he didn’t seem violent.
According to a Facebook page and LinkedIn profile thought to belong to Keepers, she is freshman engineering student who wanted to work in aerospace engineering after graduation. Her LinkedIn profile says she interned with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in 2014.
In a statement, Virginia Tech said the entire school community extended its support to the family and friends of the missing girl. The university said that hundreds of students in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets as well as students and researchers conducting drone research assisted in the search for Nicole.
Nicole, who was born in Radford, loved pandas, and she decorated her room with the stuffed bears and also pillows of the “Minions” characters.
She wanted to be on American Idol when she got older.
“She loved to sing and dance,” Weeks said. “She loved anything to do with 5 Seconds of Summer. She loved country music too — Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty. She liked Jason Aldean, Sam Hunt, all of them. I took her to a Brad Paisley concert when they had it at Tech.”
Weeks said Sunday that she was at the funeral home, making arrangements for her daughter. “We can’t believe this happened,” she said. “You never think it would happen to you.”
On Saturday, a Facebook page had been created to support the search for Nicole, and it bore the words “Keep hope alive.”
A comment posted on the site under the name of David Lovell said he was the girl’s father.
The posting said he was devastated “to learn that my daughter has been found dead! I’m so in shock I know nothing more to say, I’m broken!”
Nicole’s mother said Sunday that she separated from Nicole’s father when she was two-months pregnant. She said Nicole last saw her dad at Christmastime “for a couple of hours.”
“That was the first time she’d seen him in a year or so,” Weeks said. “I took her to her Grannie Annie and Aunt Ruthie’s house.”
DeNeen L. Brown and Fenit Nirappil reported from Washington. Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.