New Felony Charge Added in Death of 13-Year-Old Nicole Lovell

by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 

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Charges were upgraded Tuesday against one of two Virginia Tech University students accused in the stabbing death of 13-year-old liver transplant recipient Nicole Lovell.

Nicole's body was found Saturday in North Carolina, three days after she vanished from her Blacksburg, Virginia, home without her daily medication.

Virginia Tech sophomore Natalie M. Keepers, 19, was initially charged with being an accessory after the fact of Nicole's murder and with improper disposal of a dead body.

Authorities said she helped Virginia Tech freshman David Eisenhauer, 18, who's charged with first-degree murder, hide Nicole's body.

Related: Missing Teen Girl Found Dead, Virginia Tech Students Arrested

Keepers was charged Tuesday with an added count of accessory before the fact of first-degree murder, Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt said at a news conference in Blacksburg. The new felony charge carries a term of 20 years to life in prison.

Pettitt wouldn't give any more information, and neither Keepers' nor Eisenhauer's attorneys would comment Tuesday.

IMAGE: Nicole Lovell
Nicole Lovell at age 10 in Blacksburg, Virginia, in a photo provided by her mother, Tammy Weeks.AP

But in an emotional first public statement on her daughter's death, Nicole's mother, Tammy Weeks, detailed the little girl's life of "beating the odds" against cancer, only to lose it in a senseless attack.

Weeks broke down in tears before she could finish reading the statement, which was completed by Josh Blankenship, youth pastor at Nicole's church, Auburn Baptist of Riner.

Weeks said that Nicole was called "Coley" by her friends and family and that she was an extraordinarily brave little girl.

She had to have a liver transplant when she was only 10 months old — and three years later she was diagnosed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which put her in a coma for six months, Weeks said.

Nicole loved pandas, music and dancing, and she "dreamed of being on 'American Idol' someday," Weeks said. "Nicole touched many people throughout her short life."

Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson said that "as a community, we are suffering through horrific events."

"But this is not going to define us," Wilson said. "I would still live here, raise family and have my children go to college here."

Auburn Baptist said visitation for Nicole will be Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at McCoy Funeral Home in Blacksburg.

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