Police charge lacrosse player with homicide of fellow student-athlete
Fourth-year women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love found dead yesterday morning in apartment off Grounds
Charlottesville Police charged fourth-year College student George Huguely with first-degree murder yesterday in connection with the death of fourth-year College student Yeardley Love, who passed away early Monday morning.
Both Huguely and Love, members of the men's and women's lacrosse teams, respectively, were set to graduate May 23.
Charlottesville police officers were called to apartment 9 in the Camden Courtyard complex on 14th Street at 2:15 a.m. Monday to respond to a case of possible alcohol poisoning. Love was found unresponsive and appeared to have undergone serious physical trauma. Officials attempted to revive her, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Love was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police officials, who have yet to determine the cause of death, declined to discuss the nature of Love's injuries but are treating the case as a homicide investigation.
"We referred the case to our investigation division, which arrived on the scene earlier this morning, and at that point, our attention was drawn to Mr. Huguely," Longo said.
Huguely, who graduated from the Landon School in Bethesda, Md., was reported to have dated Love in the past, Longo said, and officials arrested him Monday morning. Longo declined to discuss the evidence that connected Huguely with Love's murder.
"It's clear that at some point, they were involved in a relationship, but what the status of that relationship was at the time is not yet clear," Longo said.
University President John T. Casteen sent an e-mail to students early yesterday afternoon with news of the tragedy. He expressed condolences to friends and family of Love and indignation that the crime appears to have been committed by a University student.
"That she appears now to have been murdered by another student compounds this sense of loss by suggesting Yeardley died without comfort or consolation from those closest to her," Casteen said. "We mourn her death and feel anger on reading that the investigators believe that another student caused it. Like students who have contacted us in the last few minutes, we have no explanation of what appears now to have happened."
Love was a resident of Cockeysville, Md., north of Baltimore, and graduated from nearby Notre Dame Preparatory School. She has been a steady contributor to the women's lacrosse team during the past four seasons and scored during her first career game as a Cavalier against Virginia Tech in 2007. She has played in 15 games this season as a defender.
With the postseason for both men's and women's lacrosse teams nearing, athletic department officials said they have not yet considered suspending the teams' seasons. It was "not even entering our thoughts," Athletic Director Craig Littlepage told ESPN.com yesterday. Officials were still shocked by the loss of Love, he said, "a person who was described as an angel by teammates and friends."
The Love family declined to comment at this time.
University officials centered their response to the tragedy on ensuring students received all necessary support. In an interview last week, University spokesperson Carol Wood described the University's course of action when responding to any kind of death or serious incident involving the University.
"We always start off with a narrower focus, offering assistance to the victim's family and close friends," Wood said. "Once we have provided as much support as possible for the individuals most affected, we shift our focus to addressing the greater community."
Counselors and deans made themselves available for students and athletes affected by the tragedy. Love is the seventh student to have passed away this academic year.
No homicides, however, have been reported in the Charlottesville area since January, when the remains of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington were uncovered at a farm just south of Charlottesville. Harrington disappeared Oct. 17 last year after a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena. No suspects have been located in the case.
Officials identified Huguely as connected with the crime almost immediately and had arrested him just hours after Love was pronounced dead. In incidents involving students who have been charged with a crime, local police usually forward information to the University's Office of the Dean of Students and the dean can bring up University Judiciary Committee charges against the student. But so long as the student is jailed and not enrolled in classes, he will not face trial with the committee, according to organization bylaws. UJC or Honor Committee proceedings are the only methods by which enrolled students can be dismissed permanently from the University.
Huguely, who was charged in November 2008 with public intoxication and resisting arrest in Rockbridge County, currently is in custody at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.
Students expressed shock and outrage at the murder as it garnered attention from press outlets across the country, many of which were drawn to the case because Huguely was a member of the University's top-ranked men's lacrosse program.
"It's been especially tough on students because [the news] has hit the mainstream media," Student Council President Colin Hood said. "I think students are trying to keep a sense of community here and are still in a period of mourning and grief; they are trying to fill the gaps of uncertainty."
Anyone with information regarding the death of Yeardley Love is encouraged to call Sgt. Mark Brake at (434) 970-3970 or Crime Stoppers at (434) 977-4000.
Editor's note: The Cavalier Daily finished its regular production for the academic year last Friday, and therefore no additional print editions of the paper will appear during the final exam period. The editors will continue to follow the Yeardley Love homicide as the story develops, however, and update The Cavalier Daily's website accordingly.