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After slaying, Virginia Tech students in court

David Eisenhauer, left, and Natalie Keepers

Blacksburg, Va., Police Department

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Two Virginia Tech students accused in the death of a 13-year-old girl have made their first appearances in a courtroom.

Eighteen-year-old David Eisenhauer made a brief appearance in a Montgomery County courtroom on Monday out of sight of reporters. Eisenhauer was scheduled to appear at 10 a.m., but showed up ahead of time. The clerk's office said Eisenhauer had retained court-appointed attorney Chris Tuck.

He is charged with first-degree murder and abduction in the death of 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell.Her body was found near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

Police have not said how she was killed or released a motive for the slaying.

Nineteen-year-old Natalie Keepers entered the court wearing an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs and shackles. She is charged with improper disposal of a body and accessory after the fact.

She told Judge Robert Viar that she understood the charges against her and had retained counsel, attorney Kris Olin.

Police have said Eisenhauer and Lovell knew each other but didn't giving further details Monday.

"Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her. Keepers helped Eisenhauer dispose of Nicole's body," Blacksburg police said in a statement.

While officials have not said how the teen died, in charging documents, they wrote that a gun was not used, reports The Baltimore Sun.

A state police search and recovery team searched a pond Sunday on the Virginia Tech Campus.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller would not say what officials were trying to find. Authorities said they located Lovell's remains in Surry County, North Carolina, just over the Virginia border. Blacksburg police Chief Anthony Wilson told The Roanoke Times that Eisenhauer has not confessed to involvement in Lovell's death and did not give police information that led to the discovery of her body.

The girl had been missing since last week. Her family says she disappeared after pushing a dresser in front of her bedroom door and climbing out a window. The teen's life hadn't been easy, her mother, Tammy Weeks, told The Washington Post.

She survived a liver transplant, MRSA and lymphoma when she was 5, Weeks said. She didn't like going to school because girls called her fat and talked about the scars from her transplant, Weeks said.

Lovell often cried to stay home from school, she said.

"It got so bad I wouldn't send her," Weeks said, but the bullying continued on social media.

Eisenhauer was a standout track and field athlete in high school, who was named Boys Indoor Track Performer of the Year by The Baltimore Sun in March.

The Sun reported that Eisenhauer had moved to Columbia from Yakima, Washington, for his junior year and quickly became a star on the East Coast.

His coach told the newspaper that Eisenhauer was "the best-kept secret in Maryland."

Virginia Tech said on its website that Eisenhauer was a freshman engineering major at the school and that hundreds of students and researchers had assisted in the search for Lovell.

The school said in a statement Saturday that he has been suspended from the university.

A number listed for Eisenhauer's parents was busy Sunday. A message left at Keepers' home in Laurel, Maryland, was not immediately returned.

Officials at the county jail where the two are being held would not say whether either suspect has a lawyer.