An 18-year-old Virginia Tech student has been charged with murder after the remains of a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl missing since Wednesday were found in Surry County, North Carolina, Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson announced at a news conference Saturday night .
Wilson said Nicole Madison Lovell’s remains were found near Highway 89, just inside the North Carolina border, about 4 p.m. Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt declined to say what condition the remains were found in or whether there was an apparent cause of death.
“I don’t want to comment specifically on what evidence there may be,” Pettitt said. “We’re gathering a lot of it and the medical examiner’s report will be a very important part of that.”
Saturday morning, Blacksburg police arrested Virginia Tech student David Edmond Eisenhauer in connection with Lovell’s disappearance. Eisenhauer, of Columbia, Maryland, initially faced one felony count of abduction and was taken to the Montgomery County jail. Since the discovery of Lovell’s body, Eisenhauer has been charged with first-degree murder, Wilson said.
Lovell’s body will be taken to the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke. Police are working with the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, the FBI office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office to gather more information, Wilson said.
“This has been an extremely fast-paced investigation in just the past 12 hours,” Wilson said.
Wilson did not directly answer whether Eisenhauer is the only known suspect in the investigation. He said Eisenhauer has not confessed involvement in Lovell’s death and that he did not give police information that led to the discovery of her body. Instead, law enforcement found her remains through a series of tips, some of which came from law enforcement agencies and social media.
Officials declined to give any information on how and when Lovell and Eisenhauer initially came in contact with each other.
“This was a huge investigation that involved, unfortunately, taking apart the life of a 13-year-old and figuring out where she was and who she had come in contact with,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to go into all the specific pieces of it, but when the pieces did come together, Mr. Eisenhauer was identified.”
Wilson asked that anyone with information about the case contact the Blacksburg Police Department at 961-1150. He promised transparency from law enforcement as the investigation continues.
“This investigation is far from over. The focus of the investigation is now to reconstruct a timeline leading up to Nicole’s tragic death,” Wilson said. “This is the most devastating thing you can do to a family. We’ve got some very wounded folks in our community.”
Lovell went missing from her home in the Lantern Ridge apartment complex on Jan. 27. Tammy Weeks, Lovell’s mother, declined to comment on Eisenhauer’s arrest Saturday afternoon. “It’s just not a good time right now,” she said.
A woman who answered the phone at the Eisenhauer residence in Maryland hung up before answering questions.
Eisenhauer is a Virginia Tech freshman majoring in engineering, according to the university. He has been listed as a member of Tech’s cross country team, but his name did not appear Saturday on the team’s online roster.
“In the case of a felony arrest, the university has the authority to place a student on immediate interim suspension,” Tech spokeswoman Tracy Vosburgh wrote in a statement. “The entire Virginia Tech community extends its support to Nicole’s family and friends.”
Lovell is thought to have gone missing between midnight Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday. The family found a dresser pushed up against the girl’s bedroom door. Her uncle, Fred Hawks Jr., has said the family believes she climbed out a window. After she went missing, Lovell’s family expressed concern that a liver condition requiring daily medication could impact her welfare.
Eisenhauer was a standout track and field athlete in high school, according to an online biography. He was a three-time state champion in track and also competed in cross country, finishing second in the state both his junior and senior years. He was a first-team, all-state choice in cross country and a second-team All-Southeast Region selection, the biography stated.