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‘She deserves to be here’: Family, friends and police remember Nicole Lovell five years after disappearance

Nicole’s gravesite was decorated with lights, hearts and memories of their dearest ‘Coley’

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Wednesday marks five years since a 13-year-old Blacksburg girl went missing, only to be found dead a few days later.

January 27 is a day Tammy Weeks-Dowdy will never forget. Five years ago, she learned her daughter Nicole Lovell was missing. Missing turned to murdered and now, she’s just a memory.

“Heartbroken. It feels like yesterday it happened,” said Weeks-Dowdy who visited her gravesite though the pain is still fresh. “It’s hard. It’s really hard. I wouldn’t want anybody to ever go through something like this,” Weeks-Dowdy said.

[Nicole Lovell: A timeline of the years since her disappearance]

To honor Nicole’s memory on this anniversary, family and friends gathered at her final resting place. To Tammy’s surprise, even police officers and the Commonwealth’s attorney involved in the case also came to pay their respects.

“It touches my heart because I know that she impacted them and they care,” Weeks-Dowdy said.

Nicole’s gravesite is a sacred place and they’ve decided to make it special in their own way by decorating it with solar-powered lights, hearts for Valentine’s Day and memories of their dearest “Coley.”

“It makes it beautiful just like she was. She deserves to be here,” Weeks-Dowdy said. “Because she mattered,” Weeks-Dowdy said.

The memories and triggers grew stronger for Tammy as the anniversary was approaching. Even five years later, she wants to make sure Nicole is never forgotten.

“For the loving, caring child, happy child that she was. She would go through the house singing,” Weeks-Dowdy said.

Two Virginia Tech students have been convicted in Nicole’s murder.

David Eisenhauer is spending 50 years in prison, found guilty of first-degree murder, abduction and hiding Nicole’s body.

Natalie Keepers is spending 40 years in prison, charged with accessory to first-degree murder before the fact. Last month, the Virginia Supreme Court denied Keepers’ appeal.


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