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Blacksburg Police Department(BLACKSBURG, Va.) -- The Virginia Tech student charged with kidnapping and murdering a 13-year-old girl is suspected of having a relationship with the victim that a source familiar with the probe characterizes as "inappropriate."

The source would not elaborate on the relationship to ABC News.

Police have given very little information about the nature of the relationship between the 18-year-old college student, David Eisenhauer, and the victim, Nicole Lovell, who was found dead after being reported missing from her room on Jan. 27.

Eisenhauer was arrested and charged with murder four days later. His attorney has not commented on the case.

"Based on the evidence collected to date, investigators have determined that Eisenhauer and Nicole were acquainted prior to her disappearance," the Blacksburg Police Department said in a statement released following his arrest. "Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her."

Eisenhauer's friend, Natalie Keepers, was also arrested in connection with the case. Prosecutors said Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had been with Nicole on the night she disappeared.

Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had seen Nicole climb out of her window on the night of her disappearance. But he left after giving her a "side hug," going back to the dorm of a close friend, later determined to be Keepers, Commonwealth prosecutor Mary Pettitt said in court on Thursday.

Investigators believe social media played a role in how Eisenhauer and Nicole communicated, and the app, Kik, released a statement saying that it was cooperating with the FBI in its investigation of the case.

Eisenhauer has been charged with kidnapping and first degree murder. Keepers was charged with being an accessory both before and after the fact as well as improper disposal of a body. Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for late March, but neither have had a chance to enter a plea yet.

Lawyers for both suspects have not made public statements regarding the cases.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cold front that brought severe weather and tornadoes in the South earlier this week stalled off the East Coast. A low pressure system formed on Thursday, bringing a quick hit of snow and wind from Philadelphia to Boston by Friday morning. The heaviest snow and lowest visibility happened during rush hour, which caused hundreds of accidents, spin-outs and an extremely dangerous commute.

Heavy snow and strong winds gusting up to 30 mph brought down numerous trees, branches, and power lines across New England on Friday morning. Thousands were reported without power.

The heaviest snow totals were found in Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, where a foot of snow was recorded in some areas. New York City picked up 2.5 inches in Central Park and 4.6 inches at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

ABC News

A clipper system from Canada will drop into the Midwest on Sunday and move across the Great Lakes through Monday. The clipper storm's energy, combined with an active jet stream, will form a low off the Mid-Atlantic coast. That low is expected to move Northeast up the coast on Monday night through Tuesday, but currently there is a lot of uncertainty with its track. The closer it is to the coast, the better chance for significant snow for Philadelphia, New York City and Boston Monday night through Tuesday night. This could also affect the primary election in New Hampshire on Feb. 9.

ABC News

Behind the clipper system mentioned above is a major arctic blast that moves into the upper Midwest by Tuesday with wind chills well below zero. The frigid air reaches the East Coast by Thursday. Wind chills are expected to be below zero across the Great Lakes, and in the single digits and teens for the Northeast, even as far south at Atlanta on Thursday morning.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Tarrant County Sheriff (DALLAS) -- The Texan teenager who has been returned to the United States after allegedly fleeing to Mexico with his mother has been moved to an adult jail, records show.

Ethan Couch, 18, who allegedly violated the conditions of his probation following a deadly drunk driving accident, was initially slated to be held in a juvenile facility until his next hearing on Feb. 19, in accordance with Texas laws.

The housing change was confirmed Friday via corrections department records which now list Couch as being held in custody at the Tarrant County Correction Center.

Couch and his mother Tonya Couch were apprehended in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Dec. 28, 2015 following an international manhunt after he allegedly failed to appear at a court-mandated meeting with a probation officer.

Ethan Couch was moved back to Mexico by the U.S. Marshals a month later, arriving back in Dallas on Jan. 28. In Texas, youth can remain in juvenile custody until they are 19.

The teen was put on probation in 2013 after killing four people while driving drunk at the age of 16.

During Ethan's sentencing in the drunken-driving trial, a psychologist hired by the defense testified that the teen was a product of "affluenza" -- a term he used to describe Ethan's irresponsible lifestyle associated with his affluent upbringing.

His lawyers have said they expect Couch will comply with court orders and "successfully complete his term of probation."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- A two-week, multistate manhunt for an allegedly armed couple likened to a modern-day “Bonnie and Clyde” has ended with one suspect dead and the other in a hospital awaiting her arrest.

Law enforcement in at least four states had been trying to track Blake Fitzgerald and girlfriend Brittany Harper in connection to a string of what they say were armed robberies and hostage-taking incidents. The search ended early this morning when Fitzgerald died in a shootout with police in Pensacola, Florida.

Harper was taken to a hospital for her non-life threatening injuries and is expected to be criminally charged Friday, authorities said.

Police are still looking at the couple’s possible connections to other robbery investigations, but here is a list of crimes in which investigators believe they were involved.

Sunday, Jan. 31

The U.S. Marshals released information saying that Fitzgerald and Harper’s "string of crimes" started in force Sunday when they allegedly kidnapped a clerk at the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They allegedly kidnapped the man and drove to Birmingham with him in his car.

The clerk, Kyle Dease, told Al.com that the couple told him they were headed to Florida where they wanted to get married and start a new life together.

Authorities say the couple eventually ditched both Dease and his car, and the U.S. Marshals believe that Fitzgerald then broke into a family’s home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, allegedly threatened the unidentified wife with a gun, and then forced her to come with him as he stole their car. She was later released unharmed, the U.S. Marshals said in a statement.

Monday, Feb. 1

It's believed the couple moved on to Georgia where they allegedly continued the same tactic, with the U.S. Marshals saying the couple robbed a convenience store, kidnapping and eventually releasing the clerk.

Wednesday, Feb. 3

By mid-week, they are believed to have made it to Florida where investigators say they are connected to two robberies in Walnut Hills and Destin.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Police in Pensacola, Florida, received a call at 7:56 p.m. about a Famous Footwear store being robbed at gunpoint.

Witnesses told deputies that a white male and a white female walked into the store and started shopping before the man robbed a cashier at gunpoint, Escambia County, Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference Friday.

At the time, the female who was with him "continued to shop for shoes and socks."

The suspects fled in a car but police "lost sight of the suspect vehicle," Morgan said.

"The traffic was still fairly heavy. That’s why we lost the suspects several times through the city," he said.

10:16 p.m.

"They fell off the grid for a couple of hours," Morgan said, but the suspects’ vehicle was spotted again by police at 10:16 p.m., which led to a chase.

The suspects "exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot," Morgan said, prompting a search of residences.

Friday, Feb. 5

12:25 a.m.

Police received a call from residents saying "they had been held hostage by the suspects," who allegedly fled in the residents’ red truck.

About 12:35 a.m.

Police located the truck about 10 minutes later and the shootout started.

Fitzgerald was pronounced dead at the scene and Harper was transported to a hospital after being injured during the altercation.

Around 10:45 a.m.

Harper is at a Florida hospital and will face charges of home invasion and grand theft auto, among others, authorities said.

The extent of her injuries was unclear, but State Attorney Bill Eddins said Friday he believed they involved her ankle and leg.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Friday that the amount of traffic deaths increased about 9.3 percent in the first nine months of 2015.

The number of highway casualties rose from 23,796 in the first nine months of 2014 to 26,000 in the first nine months of 2015, the NHTSA noted in a statement.

NHTSA said the rise in highway deaths comes after “years of steady, gradual declines” – deaths declined 22 percent from 2000 to 2014.

“We’re seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further,” NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said in Friday’s statement. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts.”

According to the NHTSA, 94 percent of all crashes are caused by humans.

The agency is holding a summit in Sacramento Friday to look at the dangerous behaviors that could lead to crashes and determine how to address them.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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