Father of 13-Year-Old Virginia Tech Victim Found Out His Daughter Had Been Murdered on the News

Mourners exiting Nicole Lovell’s funeral on Feb 4th
Mourners exiting Nicole Lovell’s funeral on Feb 4th

13-year-old Nicole Lovell disappeared from her home in Virginia on January 27, and her body was found four days later just north of the state line in North Carolina. A neighbor told the Associated Press that Nicole had revealed to the neighbor’s daughter that she was going to sneak out to meet her boyfriend, an older man she met online. On February 4, 18-year-old David Eisenhauer and 19-year-old Natalie Keepers, both Virginia Tech students, were charged with plotting Lovell’s kidnapping and murder.

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On an episode of Dr. Phil that aired Wednesday, Nicole’s father David Lovell opened up about his daughter’s previous use of the internet—as well as the fact that he found out about her death on TV. Lovell discussed having had trouble with Nicole contacting older men online; he even took her phone away late last year. But she got it back and continued to communicate with Eisenhauer, for which Lovell blames himself.

“If I would’ve been there, maybe she wouldn’t have went looking for acceptance from older guys,” said Lovell, who gripped a stuffed panda bear and wore a blue ribbon on his jacket in his daughter’s memory throughout the hourlong episode. “There’s regrets that I have that I’ll never get over.”

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Amazingly, Lovell does not begrudge local authorities for telling reporters that Nicole’s body had been found before even telling her parents, simply calling it a “screw up.” Blacksburg Police Department has since apologized for the oversight.


image via AP

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DISCUSSION

I feel horrible for the father, I can’t imagine the guilt felt by both parents. Even when parents have the best intentions, the internet is a scary place that is ever expanding.

I work in law enforcement and the best piece of advice I can give parents is to know what the apps on your kids phone do. Even if you don’t feel comfortable going through their stuff, if you see a new app, take five minutes to download it on your own device and play with it. Some things are innocent on the surface but a few minutes of toying with them and you can see how they could be exploited if you don’t put the proper privacy settings on. The more you know about how things function, the more informed you can be when creating boundaries and rules. You don’t have to spy on your kids to keep them safe, but knowing what they have/don’t have access to can bring you peace of mind.