Tammy Weeks, mother of Nicole Lovell, spoke before reporters outside Blacksburg, Va. Two teenagers from Howard County are charged with killing her 13-year-old daughter last week and dumping the girl's body off a highway in rural North Carolina. (Tim Prudente, Baltimore Sun video)

— Authorities say Nicole Lovell, a 13-year-old Virginia girl believed to have been abducted and killed by an 18-year-old Virginia Tech student from Maryland, was stabbed to death on Jan. 27 — the day her family discovered her missing from her Blacksburg home.

Mary Pettitt, the commonwealth's attorney for Montgomery County, where Blacksburg is located, revealed the preliminary results from an autopsy at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Police also announced that charges were upgraded against a second Virginia Tech student from Maryland who they believe helped dump the girl's body off a highway in North Carolina.


Natalie Keepers, 19, of Laurel, is now charged with being an accessory before the fact to first-degree murder. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. She was earlier charged with improper disposal of a body and being an accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony.

David E. Eisenhauer, an 18-year-old from Columbia and a graduate of Wilde Lake High School, has been charged with first-degree murder and abduction in Nicole's death.

Authorities have offered no indication of why the girl was killed or how the two teens met her. Nicole's family has said she apparently pushed a dresser in front of her bedroom door and climbed out a window on the night she disappeared.

But a neighbor said the seventh-grader told friends she would sneak out to meet her "boyfriend," David, an 18-year-old she met online through the Kik messaging app.

Stacy Snider, whose 8-year-old twins played with Nicole, said that before she vanished, Nicole showed her girls Eisenhauer's picture along with a thread of texts they had shared, and said she would be sneaking out that night to meet him.

"She was talking about this boyfriend she had that was 18 and went to college, and his name was David. And showed some text messages off of a Kik and pictures. And that's what the girls told the police officers when they asked," she said.

Snider said she learned all this from her girls only after Nicole vanished.

"I would have told her mother," she said. "But we didn't know nothing about it until she came up missing, unfortunately."

Blacksburg police said they have evidence that Eisenhauer knew the girl before she disappeared last Wednesday, but provided no more details.

"Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her," a police statement said.

Kik Interactive, based in Ontario, Canada, was "active in helping the FBI carry out their investigation," spokesman Rod McLeod said.

Both Eisenhauer and Keepers were engineering students at Virginia Tech. Their attorneys have not returned calls seeking comment. Both students are being held without bond in Virginia.

Eisenhauer was the Howard County indoor track athlete of the year last year and a two-time Class 3A state runner-up in cross country. He was a member of the Hokies track team. He has been placed on interim suspension from the team, said Pete Moris, a university athletics spokesman.

Keepers participated in theater while at Hammond High School. The relationship between the two students from Howard County remains unknown.


Keepers is scheduled for arraignment on the latest charge Wednesday afternoon in Virginia.

Preliminary hearings for both teens are scheduled for March 28 in juvenile court. Virginia law requires cases to begin in juvenile court if the victim is a child, Pettitt said. After preliminary hearings, the cases will go before a grand jury and be tried in Virginia's Circuit Court, she said.

Nicole lived with her mother, Tammy Weeks, a few miles from the Virginia Tech campus. On Sundays, they rode the bus to Auburn Baptist Church in nearby Riner, Va.

The congregation and staff released a statement after Nicole's death.

"She was well liked by the other riders, her fellow Sunday School class students and the adult leaders," they said in the statement. "Our hearts are saddened by her sudden passing. We continue to pray for and minister to her family."

Members of the church are delivering meals to Weeks and helping with funeral arrangements. A visitation is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Blacksburg. Nicole's funeral is scheduled for the following afternoon.

Weeks spoke to reporters at the news conference Tuesday afternoon. Holding a worn stuffed panda bear belonging to Nicole, she spoke of how her daughter had bounced back from numerous health challenges as a small child, including a liver transplant when she was an infant and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at 4 years old.

Nicole "tried to live a normal life," until the cancer came at age 4, she said. "We almost lost her."

She said doctors predicted Nicole had a 1 percent chance of surviving.

But she "beat the odds," her mother said.

Weeks read from a statement as Anthony Wilson, the police chief in Blacksburg, stood beside her and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Music… dancing … [she] dreamed of being on 'American Idol' someday," said Weeks, the pitch of her voice rising against her tears. "Nicole was a very lovable person. Nicole touched many people throughout her short life."

There was more to read, but she stopped, unable to continue.

Shaking, she hurried from the room.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.