A former Virginia Tech freshman apologized on Wednesday before he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for murdering a 13-year-old girl he first met in an anonymous internet chat room.
“I am sorry for the pain my actions have caused for Nicole Lovell and her family,” said David Eisenhauer, 21, according to the Associated Press.
Prosecutors said Eisenhauer in 2016 stabbed Lovell, a 7th-grader from Blacksburg, Virginia, 14 times — including once in the neck — to stop her from revealing their relationship. He feared Lovell was pregnant, but said he wasn’t certain they had sex because he blacked out on the night it may have happened.
Lovell’s parents were allowed to address the court before Eisenhauer was sentenced.
Her father, David, said he’s been diagnosed with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since his daughter’s death. Her mother, Tami, said she’s still grieving, and celebrated what would have been her daughter’s 16th birthday last month beside her grave.
“There is nothing that will happen in this courtroom that will fix it,” David said.
Eisenhauer pleaded no contest in February to first degree murder, abduction and concealing a dead body, according to the Washington Post.
Prosecutors on Wednesday asked for a life sentence, while Eisenhauer’s lawyers said between 24 and nearly 40 years was just. In the end, Judge Robert Turk sentenced Eisenhauer to 50 years, and under Virginia law he will serve at least 85% of that sentence — about 42 ½ years — before he is eligible for release.
Eisenhauer allegedly lured Lovell out of her house on January 27, 2016, on the promise of a “secret date.” Her naked, bloody body was found in rural North Carolina, steps from a remote road, face-down in the dirt.
Police said Lovell’s blood was found in the trunk of Eisenhauer’s car. Data from a GPS in his car put him near Lovell’s house on the night she disappeared, and his DNA was under Lovell’s fingernails. Days before Lovell’s death, he searched the internet for “How does the TV serial killer Dexter get rid of bodies.”
A friend of Eisenhauer’s, fellow Virginia Tech ex-freshman Natalie Keepers, faces her own charges for allegedly aiding the kidnapping and killing. She is scheduled to stand trial in September on charges of being an accessory to murder and concealing a body. Police said Keepers helped Eisenhauer because she saw herself as his “sociopath in training,” according to the Roanoke Times.
“She said she was part of a special club. It was the best club in the world because he understood her,” a police detective testified at a preliminary hearing in the case.
“She made reference to David Eisenhauer as a ‘sociopath,’” the detective testified, “and she was his ‘sociopath in training.’”
Keepers and Eisenhauer together devised the plan to kill Lovell — buying a shovel at Walmart, selecting a secluded location for the killing and scouting out Lovell’s home, authorities said.
The “official plan,” police said Keepers told them, was for Eisenhauer to ask Lovell out on a secret date, go for a walk with her, sneak up behind her and slit her throat. Keepers helped Eisenhauer stuff Lovell’s body into the trunk of Eisenhauer’s gray 2008 Lexus, according to the Roanoke Times.
From there, the two drove into a mountainous, rural area across the state border in Surry County, North Carolina where, beside a remote road, they stripped the clothes off Lovell’s corpse, wiped her body down with bleach and left her beside the road.
Then they went for something to eat at McDonald’s, where they dumped bloody cleaning wipes. After that, they drove to West Virginia and disposed of Lovell’s personal effects before returning to Virginia Tech and washing their bloody clothes in a laundromat.
Keepers kept a trophy: Lovell’s Minions blanket.