Prosecutor: Grand jury indicts Howard County teens in killing of Virginia girl

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted two Virginia Tech students from Howard County in the killing of a 13-year-old girl, prosecutors said.

The grand jury returned indictments on David Eisenhauer, 18, of Columbia and Natalie Keepers, 19, of Laurel, Commonwealth Attorney Mary Pettitt said in a statement.

Eisenhauer, a graduate of Wilde Lake High School, was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, abduction and transporting or concealing a body, Pettitt said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Keepers, a graduate of Hammond High School, was indicted on charges of being an accessory to murder before the fact and transporting or concealing a body, Pettitt said. Keepers could also be sentenced to life in prison.

Authorities say the two engineering students plotted to kill Nicole Lovell, buying cleaning supplies and a shovel at a Wal-Mart, then dumping her body off a road in Surry County, N.C.

Neighbors of Nicole said the girl had been messaging an older "boyfriend" before she went missing from her Blacksburg, Va., home. She pushed a dresser in front of her bedroom door, her family said, and climbed out a window overnight.

She was stabbed to death in late January.

Messages on the missing girl's cellphone led police to Eisenhauer, Pettitt has said.

Eisenhauer was the Howard County indoor track athlete of the year in 2015 and a two-time Class 3A state runner-up in cross country. He also became a member of the Hokies track team.

Keepers interned at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, led science experiments at her church's Bible school and wanted a career in aerospace or ocean engineering, according to her LinkedIn profile.

They remain jailed in Virginia without bond.

An attorney for Keepers was not commenting Tuesday, his office said. Eisenhauer's attorney did not return a message.

Both are scheduled for jury trials in March.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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