The people who know and love Natalie Keepers, 19, can’t understand why she allegedly helped kill a 13-year-old girl named Nicole Lovell. Although she provided disturbing details of the crime in court Thursday, her motive is still unclear.
The only hint is something Natalie confessed in open court, that she “was excited to be part of something secretive and special” with the friend now charged with Lovell’s murder.
Keepers appeared in court Thursday, the charges against her elevated after her role in the shocking crime were revealed. During her hearing, a picture of Natalie emerged — of a smart girl troubled by depression, but otherwise well-behaved.
Keepers graduated from high school with a 3.29 GPA, putting her in the top 15 percent in her class, the Roanoke Times reported. She wanted to be an aerospace engineer like her father, Tim, and work for NASA.
The Keepers family has been described as a “very strong Christian family” with three other kids — including one Nicole Lovell’s age — who looked up to Natalie, the Washington Post added. The teen never drank, experimented with drugs, or got in trouble in school.
“We all talk together,” Tim Keepers said, according to WSLS. “My sons love Natalie our daughters love Natalie… We’re very happy.”
But Natalie told the court she was bullied in school, cut herself, suffered from anxiety and depression, and contemplated suicide. Counseling taught her coping methods and to love and take care of herself, she said, and she sought out therapy after arriving at Virginia Tech.
Keepers’ high school geometry teacher, Stan Arnold, called Natalie “bubbly.”
“There’s a tremendous incongruence between the girl I knew and the crime committed.”
Natalie befriended a boy named David Eisenhauer, 18, at college. They were both from the Baltimore area and formed a bond over their hometown roots. It’s not clear why the pair started to talk about killing someone, or why they picked Nicole.
Attorney Mary Pettitt told the court that Natalie was intimately involved in the plan, which began in January. They allegedly discussed every detail with care and even hashed out details at a restaurant in town. Eisenhauer befriended Nicole online, had what law enforcement officers described anonymously as an “inappropriate relationship,” and planned to lure the girl away from her home with promises of a date. He was going to slit her throat.
The day of the murder, Lovell sneaked out of her house with her cell phone and a Minions blanket, telling a neighbor kid she was going to meet a boy. Police believe she was killed that same day; an autopsy revealed she was stabbed to death. David has only admitted to seeing her before she vanished but denies killing her.
But police found that he and Lovell texted each other the day the 13-year-old vanished; her last text was from him. And Natalie is pointing a finger at David, saying he killed the girl, and she helped him load her body in the trunk of his Lexus. They went to Walmart to pick up cleaning supplies and a shovel. And she helped him dispose of the body.
According to ABC News, Keepers told police where in her dorm the cleaning supplies and Nicole’s blanket had been hidden and where to find the body in Surry County, North Carolina. The child was discovered on January 31 and the next day, Natalie was arrested.
At first, Keepers was charged with a felony count of improper disposal of a dead body and a misdemeanor count of accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony. Now, she’s facing another charge — accessory before the fact to the first-degree murder. Keepers’ bond request was denied Thursday. Eisenhauer has been charged with first-degree murder and abduction.
Her family had no idea Natalie had been plotting murder. Her father described the moment of his daughter’s arrest as “complete and utter devastation” and like “being punched in the stomach by someone much bigger than you.”
“It still is extremely confusing to me. We are still very, very, very, sad.”
[Image via YouTube]