Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Murder of Nicole Lovell

Nicole Lovell (13) disappeared from her family’s home in Blacksburg, Virginia after climbing out of her bedroom window during the early morning hours of January 27th, 2016. Prior to that morning, Nicole told her friends that she was planning to sneak out to meet up with her new 18-year-old boyfriend named David. This David was later identified as David Eisenhauer, an 18-year-old freshman at Virginia Tech.

Hours after Nicole climbed out of her bedroom window, her parents found her bedroom empty, her window open, and a drawer pushed up to her windowsill that helped her climb outside. They immediately reported her missing. Investigators then began interviewing Nicole’s friends and neighbors. A few of those friends mentioned Nicole’s plan to meet up with an older boy named David. Three days later, David Eisenhauer was arrested. 

David Eisenhauer. (source: Blacksburg PD)

David admitted to meeting Nicole online and to driving to her home during the early morning hours of January 27th so they could meet up in person. He said that he believed Nicole was 16 or 17 years old, but when he saw her that morning, he realized she was much younger and decided to leave.

Investigators did not buy this story and charged David with Nicole’s abduction. Shortly thereafter, Nicole’s body was found on the side of the road near the Virginia/North Carolina border. She had been stabbed to death. David was then charged with murder in addition to abduction.

In a twist to an already tragic case, David later told investigators that he did not act alone. Fellow Virginia Tech freshman Natalie Keepers allegedly helped David in both the planning of Nicole’s murder and the clean-up of Nicole’s body. Natalie was subsequently arrested and charged with being an accessory to a felony before the fact and with concealing a body. 

Natalie Keepers. (source: Blacksburg PD)

Many people have questioned why two young people with seemingly bright futures would commit such heinous crimes. It seemed likely that David's motive was to cover up his inappropriate relationship with Nicole - but he denied that the relationship ever actually came to fruition. Additionally, the question still remained: How did Natalie factor into all of this? The investigation eventually revealed the answers to some remaining questions - and what was found chilled the community to the bone.

Linking David to Nicole.

(source: Daily Mail)

As previously stated, Nicole told her friends that she was going to meet up with an 18-year-old boyfriend named David before she went missing. It did not take investigators long to identify this "David" as David Eisenhauer. This is likely due to the fact that investigators uncovered several messages between Nicole and David Eisenhauer on the messaging app Kik. 

David himself admitted to meeting Nicole online but said he did not know she was only 13 years old. He also claimed that he left upon learning her real age, and that nothing happened between them. However, the messages between David and Nicole indicate that they had met in person at least once before the night of January 27th, and that they had possibly gotten sexually intimate. 

This information finally revealed a potential motive for David - and as many people initially thought, it was to cover up to his inappropriate relationship with 13-year-old Nicole. 

The next part of the investigation revealed Natalie's involvement in all of this.

Natalie and David.

Natalie Keepers told investigators that she first met David at their freshman orientation at Virginia Tech. The two became close throughout the first semester. It was reported that they had a brief romantic fling but ended up just being platonic friends.

During the early second semester, David approached Natalie about a problem he was having involving a younger girl. He reportedly explained that he met Nicole at a party and thought she was 18 but found out that she was only 13 after having sex with her. David said that Nicole was threatening to expose their relationship, and as a result, David and Natalie came up with a plan for David to kill Nicole in order to keep the relationship a secret. 

Natalie went on to describe David as a sociopath, and she referred to herself as a “sociopath in training.” When investigators probed her for more information about why she agreed to participate in the murder of a young girl, Natalie told investigators that she was “excited to be a part of something special and secret.”

After David went through with the murder, he originally left Nicole’s body hidden at Craig Creek Road. Then, he enlisted Natalie’s help in moving Nicole’s body, removing her clothing, wiping her body with Clorox wipes, and dumping her on the side of the road near the state’s border. 

Investigators forensically linked Natalie to the scene after searching her dorm room. While there, investigators found a Minions blanket that belonged to Nicole, covered in blood. 

Court proceedings.

Both David and Natalie pleaded not guilty to all charges. David went to trial in 2018, but after four days of testimony, he decided to plead no contest. Essentially, he admitted that there was enough evidence to convict him, but he did not confess to committing the crime. 

In September 2018, David was sentenced to 50 years in prison. During his sentencing, David offered an apology to the Lovell family: “I am sorry for the pain my actions have caused for Nicole Lovell and her family.”

source: NY Daily News

On August 13th, 2018, Natalie Keepers pleaded guilty to concealing Nicole's body. At that time, Natalie still faced charges of being an accessory before the fact to first-degree murder. Natalie’s guilty plea to the concealment of body charge was reportedly a legal tactic. Her attorneys hoped that this guilty plea would limit the evidence in the trial for the more serious charge of planning Nicole’s murder. 

Natalie still maintained her not guilty plea for that charge, and she went to trial in September 2018.

source: Collegiate Times

On September 20th, 2018, Natalie was found guilty of her role in the death of Nicole Lovell. At her trial, the prosecution played a recording of a Natalie’s initial interrogation with investigators. During the interrogation she ultimately admitted to helping David plan Nicole’s murder, however she stated that she did not think that David would actually go through with the plan. 

Hours into the interrogation, Natalie spoke of the life she wanted to live and eventually began to cry, telling investigators, “David ruined my life.” She was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Both David and Natalie remain incarcerated today.

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