Less than 24 hours after the body of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell was found, police arrested a Virginia Tech coed in relation to the stabbing death. She was named by her school as Natalie Marie Keepers, 19. On January 30, police in Blacksburg, Virginia, arrested 18-year-old David Eisenhauer and first charged him with felony abduction, later adding a first-degree murder charge after Lovell’s body was found in Surry County, North Carolina. Keepers is charged with being an accessory before and after the fact.
Here’s what you need to know about the second person arrested:
1. One of Keepers’ Friends Called Her ‘a Very Sweet Person’
According to her Facebook page, Keepers is a native of Laurel, Maryland. That’s about 13 miles from Columbia, Maryland, where David Eisenhauer was living prior to his attending Virginia Tech. She just celebrated her 19th birthday on January 18. Online records show that she graduated from Hammond High School as part of the class of 2015. She was part of the editorial team of her school’s literary magazine, The Vision. According to a tweet from her high school newspaper she was also the assistant director for the school’s theater department as well as acting in shows.
Speaking to Heavy.com, one of Keepers’ high school classmates said, “Natalie was always a very sweet person who was extremely dedicated to her school work and the theater program at Hammond. She regularly informally tutored underclassmen in math and science and everyone I’ve heard from who knew her were extremely shocked to hear about this story.”
2. She Told the FBI She ‘Was Excited to Be Part of Something Secretive & Special’
According to prosecutor Mary Pettitt, Keepers told FBI investigators that she “was excited to be part of something secretive and special.” WDBJ7 reports that Pettitt revealed additional details during a February 4 bond hearing. She said Keepers and Eisenhauer, who had an online relationship, planned the murder and bought a shovel at Walmart. She said Lovell was killed on Craig Creek Road in Blacksburg and that Keepers helped Eisenhauer put the body in his Lexus and then dump it in Surry County, North Carolina.
In an earlier statement, Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson said, “This investigation is far from over. The focus of the investigation is now to reconstruct a timeline leading up to (the teen’s) tragic death. This is the most devastating thing you can do to a family. We’ve got some very wounded folks in our community.” Keepers was initially charged with improper disposal of a body and misdemeanor accessory after the fact; she was later additionally charged with being an accessory before the fact. Both she and Eisenhauer are being held without bond at Montgomery County Jail, reports the Baltimore Sun.
3. She’s on a Team at Virginia Tech That Designs Sailboats
At Virginia Tech, Keepers was on the sailing team according to the homepage for the school’s squad. Her specific role was in designing and constructing boats that were used in racing. Like Eisenhauer, she was an engineering student at the school, reports WSLS.
4. Investigators Believe That Lovell Knew Eisenhauer Before She Was Abducted
Nicole Lovell was last seen at her home at some time between midnight and 7 a.m. on January 27. Speaking to the Roanoke Times, Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, simply said, “It just not a good time right now.” The newspaper reports that Lovell’s family believe that she climbed out a window at here Lantern Ridge apartment complex. The teenager has a liver condition that requires daily medication. She was last active on her Facebook page on the morning of January 26. The Times notes that Lovell was “participating in several “teen dating” Facebook groups.”
In an interview with WDBJ on January 29, David Lovell said that he was “scared to death” that his daughter was missing. He said, “At this point, I know she is sick. She’s hurting. She’s probably already into convulsions. Her liver is shutting down as we speak. Wherever she is.”
During that same interview, David Lovell added that he was separated from his daughter’s mother and didn’t live with the family. The last time he spoke with the teenager was two weeks prior to her disappearance. She wrote in a text message, “Hi, I love you, things are good.”
Police have said that Eisenhauer knew Lovell before he abducted her but didn’t go into more specifics.
5. Eisenhauer Was a Statewide Athlete of the Year in High School
Fox DC reports that Eisenhauer was taken into custody in Montgomery County, Virginia, on the morning of January 30. He’s being held without bond. Eisenhauer was arrested without incident. In a Facebook post later that day, Lovell’s father, David said that his daughter had been found dead. He wrote, “Devastated to learn that my daughter has been found dead! I’m so in shock I know nothing more to say, I’m broken!”
In April 2015, the Baltimore Sun wrote an article about Eisenhauer being named Howard County boys indoor track Athlete of the Year. That feature details Eisenhauer’s illustrious athletic career. He was a three-time state champion and was all-state in cross country.