Hearing Set for Va. College Students in Slaying of 13-Year-Old Girl - NBC New York
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Hearing Set for Va. College Students in Slaying of 13-Year-Old Girl

Nicole Lovell's body was found just across the state line in North Carolina four days after she was reported missing

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    Virginia Tech student Natalie Keepers(Left) and Virginia Tech student David Eisenhauer (Right) were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nicole Madison Lovell.

    Two former Virginia Tech students charged in the disappearance and death of a 13-year-old girl are due in court for a preliminary hearing.

    David Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder in the January stabbing death of Blacksburg seventh-grader Nicole Lovell, who went missing after apparently climbing out of her bedroom window and was later found dead.

    Natalie Keepers, 19, is charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide Lovell's body.

    A judge will decide after Friday's preliminary hearing whether there's probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.

    At a previous hearing, a prosecutor said Eisenhauer and Keepers, both college students from Maryland, met at a fast-food restaurant Jan. 26 to plan Lovell's death. Authorities have not given a possible motive.

    On Jan. 27, Lovell apparently climbed out of her bedroom window. Her body was found four days later just across the state line in North Carolina.

    A friend of Lovell said the seventh-grader had talked of running away and starting a family with Eisenhauer. Natasha Bryant told The Washington Post that Nicole had called Eisenhauer her boyfriend. Bryant said Lovell described Eisenhauer as "funny and really nice."

    Bryant said Lovell met Eisenhauer online, and that she and other friends had worried about Lovell's social media interactions.

    On a episode of "Dr. Phil" recorded in the aftermath of Lovell's death, her father said she had recently been grounded from social media for chatting inappropriately online with older men. Lovell's parents took away her phone, but she later got it back, he said on the show.

    Davy Draper, who said he's a close family friend of the Lovells and knew the girl 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.

    Eisenhauer was a freshman engineering student and distance runner at Virginia Tech when he was arrested. Keepers was also a Virginia Tech freshman; in 2014, she interned at a NASA facility in Maryland, and planned to double-major in aerospace and ocean engineering and naval engineering.

    Eisenhauer and Keepers went to high schools five miles apart in Columbia, Maryland, a planned community between Baltimore and Washington that's known for highly rated public schools and competitive athletics. It's not clear when they met.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.