Suspect called herself 'sociopath in training'

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 17:46:43-04

A former Virginia Tech student charged in the kidnap-slaying of a 13-year-old girl called her co-defendant a "sociopath" and referred to herself as a "sociopath in training" a police detective testified Friday.

Also, prosecutors in the case against David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers introduced text messages taken from Eisenhauer's cellphone speculating about the body never being found and talking about engaging in "overkill."

Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder. Keepers, 19, charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide the body of Nicole Lovell, a 7th grader who authorities say sneaked out her window early one morning last January to rendezvous with the older teens.

Montgomery County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Robert Viar Jr. found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury, which will meet in late July to determine whether the two former college students from Maryland should be indicted.

Blacksburg Police detective Ryan Hite testified that Keepers told investigators she and Eisenhauer discussed several ways to kill Nicole: drugging her, making it look like suicide and knocking her unconscious and leaving her to die of exposure. They settled on what she called "the official plan," Hite said: "Grab her from behind, cover her mouth and slit her throat."

Keepers insisted to investigators she was not present during the actual killing. At one point in her police interview, she said Eisenhauer forced her involvement but she later said she participated because it made her feel like part of a special, secret club.

"She referred to Eisenhauer as a sociopath and to herself as a sociopath in training," Hite said.

Hite also said Keepers described in detail how she and Eisenhauer bought a shovel and cleaning supplies, went together to pick out a rural site where Nicole would be killed and dumped her body just over the state line in North Carolina.

Keepers took investigators to those sites, pointing out tire tracks from Eisenhauer's car and their footprints in the blood-spattered snow, as well as to locations where they disposed of Nicole's clothes and backpack, Hite said. She could not find the wooded area where Eisenhauer tossed the knife, Hite said, but Nicole's blanket, emblazoned with "Minions" cartoon figures, which she brought with her when she sneaked out her window, was seized from Keepers' dorm room.

In the text message conversation about the massive search for Nicole after her disappearance, Eisenhauer said that as long as nobody found the body for a week "it will never be traced." He also said Nicole "was blackmailing another guy too," and he and Eisenhauer talked about smelling like cleaning solution. Keepers had told police that she and Eisenhauer had cleaned Nicole's body with sanitizing wipes and bleach.

"Always go overkill, especially when your life is on the line," Eisenhauer said in one of the text messages.

Eisenhauer was less talkative in his interview with police while Nicole was still missing. Blacksburg Detective D.L. Twigger testified that Eisenhauer said he arranged to pick Nicole up outside her apartment, but he thought she was much older. He said Nicole did not get in his car and started walking back toward her apartment, and he drove away.

According to Twigger, Eisenhauer said he thought police should focus more on finding the body "rather than interrogate the last person to see her alive. I'm calling a lawyer. I'm done."

Officials didn't testify about a possible motive.

However, a friend of Eisenhauer whose cellphone was recently seized by police earlier provided a 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.