BLACKSBURG, Va. — Seventh-grader Nicole Madison Lovell was stabbed to death the same day she climbed out of her bedroom window, by a Virginia Tech student who got help from a fellow freshman both before and after the crime, authorities said Tuesday.

David Eisenhauer, the engineering major accused of kidnapping and killing the 13-year-old girl, said “I believe the truth will set me free” after he was arrested on Saturday, police said.

Nicole’s mother discovered her missing last Wednesday morning, setting off an intense hunt. Police quickly zeroed in on Eisenhauer, and then found Nicole’s body on Saturday, hidden off a North Carolina road, two hours south of campus.

Stacey Snider, a neighbor of the family whose 8-year-old twins played with Nicole, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that before she vanished, Nicole showed her girls Eisenhauer’s picture and a thread of texts they had shared through Kik, a messaging app popular with young teens. Snider said Nicole told her girls that she would be sneaking out that night to meet him. Nicole said she had been seeing Eisenhauer repeatedly, and described him as her “boyfriend,” Snider said.

Snider said she learned all this from her girls only after Nicole vanished. “I would have told her mother. But we didn’t know nothing about it until she came up missing, unfortunately,” she said. Nicole was stabbed to death on Wednesday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said.

Pettitt said a classmate of Eisenhauer’s, Natalie Keepers, will face an additional and more serious charge. Keepers is now accused of being an accessory “before the fact” to first-degree murder, in addition to earlier accusations of helping to dispose of the body.

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