Shock fell over the University of Virginia campus yesterday when students and faculty learned Yeardley Love, 22, a member of the lacrosse team, had been killed. Police charged George Huguely, a member of the #1-ranking men’s lacrosse team, in her death.
Police responded at 2:15 a.m. on Monday morning to a possible alcohol overdose at Love’s apartment, after her body had been found by her roommate. But police said Love had “obvious physical trauma” to her body, although it did not appear a weapon was used. Huguely, who was found at his apartment nearby, was questioned and charged with first-degree murder.
Police told reporters Love and Huguely “have had a romantic relationship” in the past, but it was unclear what their status was at the time of her death. This morning, Huguely’s lawyer, Francis Lawrence, said, “We are confident that Ms. Love’s death was not intended, but an accident with a tragic outcome.”
Love, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, who was originally from Cockeysville, Maryland, was only weeks away from graduation.The University of Virginia president, John Casteen, released a statement yesterday:
“We express the University’s and our own sympathy for Yeardley’s family, team-mates and friends. That she appears now to have been murdered by another student compounds this sense of loss by suggesting that Yeardley died without comfort or consolation from those closest to her. We mourn her death and feel anger on reading that the investigators believe that another student caused it.”
The weirdest twist in this whole story? Huguely attended the private Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was a starting quarterback and an All-American lacrosse player. Landon is also the high school attended by one of the three Duke University lacrosse players who was accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at an off-campus party (five Landon School alumni were at the party where the alleged assault occurred). Huguely actually defended his former high school lacrosse teammate, David Evans, in a 2006 interview with The Washington Post, saying, “In this country, you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.” (Charges against all of the accused were later dismissed.) Love’s death certainly doesn’t help the image of lacrosse students who come out of the Landon School — or, one could argue, the elite, preppy sport of lacrosse in general.
We can only hope Love’s death is not in vain and that it provokes a serious discussion about domestic abuse (which is what it looks like now, but, obviously, we don’t know for sure). Yes, even star athletes at one of the best schools for lacrosse in the nation could have been hiding intimate partner violence. It’s a discussion that’s difficult for anyone to have and it’s not hard to see why private schools, top colleges and sports teams that rank #1 in the nation would be uncomfortable addressing it. But I so, so hope UVA, Love’s sorority, and all others affected by her death take this as a teachable moment. And I feel for Yeardley Love’s family, especially if, in the months ahead, they learn their daughter had a history of being coerced, bullied or abused by the fellow student who eventually killed her.
Thanks to commenter Ginacakes for pointing out an error: Cockeysville is in Maryland, not Virginia.