Mom says slain Virginia teen endured health issues, bullying

This undated photo provided by the Blacksburg Police Department shows Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell. (Blacksburg Police Department via AP)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A Virginia teenager whose body was found over the weekend overcame serious health problems as a young girl and was then bullied at her school and online before her death, her mother said.

Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer, 18, has been charged with first-degree murder and abduction in the death of 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell, whose body was found Saturday in North Carolina, police said. Another Virginia Tech student, Natalie Keepers, 19, faces charges of improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony.

Eisenhauer appeared briefly in court Monday morning, out of sight of reporters, ahead of the scheduled 10 a.m. state time. Eisenhauer had retained a court-appointed attorney, the clerk’s office said. Keepers also was in court, entering in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs and shackles. She told Judge Robert Viar Jr. that she understood the charges and that she had also retained counsel. Her next court date is March 28.

Police have said they have evidence showing Eisenhauer and Lovell knew each other before she disappeared. But officials have not commented further on any possible motive.

Nicole’s life hadn’t been easy, her mother, Tammy Weeks, told The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/201JsDS). She survived a liver transplant, MRSA and lymphoma when she was 5, Weeks said.

“God got her through all that, and she fought through all that, and he took her life,” Weeks said.

Nicole didn’t like going to school because girls called her fat and talked about the scars from her transplant, Weeks said. Lovell often cried to stay home from school, her mother said.

“It got so bad I wouldn’t send her,” Weeks said, but the bullying continued on social media.

Lovell loved pandas and wanted to be on “American Idol” when she got older, Weeks said.

Davy Draper, who said he’s a close family friend of the Lovells and knew the teen most of her life, called her an energetic and outspoken girl who got along with everyone.

“She was an awesome little girl. She was an angel here on Earth, and she’s an angel now,” Draper said Sunday.

Eisenhauer and Keepers were being held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail. Police have said Eisenhauer and Lovell knew each other but weren’t giving further details Monday.

“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,” Blacksburg police said in a statement.

A state police search and recovery team searched a pond Sunday on the Virginia Tech Campus. State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller would not say what officials were trying to find.

Authorities said they located Lovell’s remains in Surry County, North Carolina, just over the Virginia border.

Blacksburg police Chief Anthony Wilson told The Roanoke Times that Eisenhauer has not confessed to involvement in Lovell’s death and did not give police information that led to the discovery of her body.

The girl had been missing since last week. Her family says she disappeared after pushing a dresser in front of her bedroom door and climbing out a window. Lovell’s family members did not immediately return messages seeking comment Sunday.

Eisenhauer was as a standout track and field athlete in high school, who was named Boys Indoor Track Performer of the Year by The Baltimore Sun in March. The Sun said Eisenhauer had moved to Columbia from Yakima, Washington, for his junior year and quickly became a star on the East Coast. His coach told the newspaper that Eisenhauer was “the best-kept secret in Maryland.”

Virginia Tech said on its website that Eisenhauer was a freshman engineering major at the school and that hundreds of students and researchers had assisted in the search for Lovell. The school said in a statement Saturday that he has been suspended from the university.

A number listed for Eisenhauer’s parents was busy Sunday. A message left at Keepers’ home in Laurel, Maryland, was not immediately returned. Officials at the county jail where the two are being held would notsay whether either suspect has a lawyer.

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Associated Press writer Larry O’Dell and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed from Richmond, Virginia.

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This story has been corrected to show that the comments from Nicole Lovell’s mother came from The Washington Post, not The Roanoke Times.

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