By Colleen Jenkins
(Reuters) - The 13-year-old girl whose abduction and murder have been tied to two Virginia Tech students appears to have been stabbed to death, a prosecutor said on Tuesday, citing a preliminary autopsy report.
Nicole Lovell of Blacksburg, Virginia, where the university is located, died on or about Jan. 27, the same day she went missing, Montgomery County prosecutor Mary Pettitt said at a news conference in Blacksburg.
Lovell's remains were found about 90 miles away on Saturday in a heavily wooded, rural area in North Carolina, officials said.
Pettitt said Virginia Tech student Natalie Keepers, 19, who previously was accused of helping to dispose of Lovell's body, will now also face a charge of being an accessory before the fact of a first-degree murder.
That charge substantially increases the possible punishment Keepers might face to 20 years to life in prison.
A fellow student, David Eisenhauer, 18, is charged with first-degree murder and abduction and faces a maximum of life in prison. Police have said he took advantage of a prior connection with Lovell to kidnap and kill her.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)