Ex-college students face hearing in slaying of girl, 13

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Prosecutors may reveal more details Friday in the case against two former Virginia Tech students accused of plotting to kidnap and murder a socially awkward 13-year-old girl who authorities say climbed out a window to rendezvous with them after midnight last January.

David Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Blacksburg seventh-grader Nicole Lovell. Natalie Keepers, 19, is charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide the body.

Their hearing Friday will be in Montgomery County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt said at a February bond hearing that the college students from Maryland met at a fast-food restaurant on Jan. 26 to plan Nicole's death, and bought a shovel and cleaning supplies at separate Wal-Mart stores. She said they decided together that Eisenhauer would cut Nicole's throat.

She said Eisenhauer initially denied involvement when police found his messages on Nicole's phone, but eventually said he drove to the girl's home and watched her climb out of her window before they drove off to pick up Keepers. The prosecutor said Eisenhauer and Nicole last made contact by phone at 12:39 a.m. Jan. 27.

Pettitt said Keepers is adamant that she was not present at the killing. But once Nicole was dead, the prosecutor said, Keepers helped load her body into Eisenhauer's Lexus. Nicole's remains were eventually found in a remote spot in North Carolina, about two hours south of the campus.

The biggest unanswered question surrounding Nicole's death remains: Why?

A friend of Eisenhauer whose cellphone was recently seized by police provided the first possible answer. Bryce Dustin of Pulaski told The Roanoke Times earlier this month that Eisenhauer texted him about meeting a teenage girl at a party and later learning that she was underage. Eisenhauer feared the girl would "expose" him and asked if Dustin knew where he could hide a body, Dustin told the newspaper.

Pettitt declined to comment on the possible motive and the search warrant for Dustin's phone. She also would not say who will testify at Friday's hearing or describe what new information they will reveal.

Defense attorneys could waive the preliminary hearing, conceding that there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed. But the prosecutor said she is preparing for the hearing. Defense attorneys, who have consistently declined media interviews, did not return telephone messages.