BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — David Eisenhauer, a Virginia Tech engineering student accused of kidnapping and murdering a 13-year-old girl who climbed out her bedroom window last week, said “I believe the truth will set me free.”
That’s his most lengthy statement yet, appearing in a police document resulting from his arrest on Saturday.
That same day, the body of Nicole Madison Lovell was found hidden off a North Carolina road, two hours south of campus.
The investigation shows the girl died of stabbing on Wednesday, Jan. 27, the day she vanished. The rest of the truth of what happened to Nicole has been closely guarded by investigators.
But only hours after Eisenhauer’s arrest, another promising engineering major at Virginia Tech also was behind bars. Natalie Keepers is accused of helping to dispose of the girl’s body “on or about 1/27.”
Nicole’s mother, Tammy Weeks, spoke about her daughter at a news conference Tuesday.
Nicole bore emotional and physical wounds as a young teen, suffering from bullying at school and online over her weight and a tracheotomy scar, her mother said. She needed daily medication after a liver transplant, and also survived lymphoma and a drug-resistant bacterial infection.
Nicole was 5 years old when she survived all those health problems, Weeks told The Washington Post. “God got her through all that, and she fought through all that, and he took her life,” Weeks said.
Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with kidnapping and murdering Nicole; Keepers, 19, is charged with improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony. They said little at court appearances Monday, and their lawyers have declined to comment.
Blacksburg police said they have evidence showing Eisenhauer knew the girl before she disappeared Wednesday.
“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,” a police statement said.
On campus, state police divers continued to search a pond, and wouldn’t say what they hoped to find.
The arrests of the two ambitious and focused students shocked people who knew them in Maryland, where they attended nearby high schools. Neither had prior criminal records, police said.
“We had no reason to think he would be unsuccessful in his goals because he was very focused,” said Principal James LeMon at Wilde Lake High School, where Eisenhauer graduated last year.
Eisenhauer, named Boys Indoor Track Performer of the Year by The Baltimore Sun last March, chose Virginia Tech to pursue engineering while competing with the Hokies’ top college runners, LeMon said.
Keepers interned at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, led science experiments at her church’s Bible school and hoped to build a future in aerospace or ocean engineering, her online resume said.
“It’s just very, very surprising,” said her principal, Marcia Leonard at Hammond High School.
Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Maryland, and Larry O’Dell and Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.