Students at the University of Virginia and across the region were stunned Monday after a varsity lacrosse player from Cockeysville was found slain in her apartment and a member of the men's team was charged in her murder.
Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old senior and graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory in Towson, was discovered by a roommate who called police with a report of possible alcohol poisoning.
Officers who responded to the 2:30 a.m. call immediately realized "that this young lady was the victim of something far worse," said Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo Sr. "There were obvious physical injuries to her body."
Hours later, they arrested George Huguely, 22, a Chevy Chase native and varsity player on the men's lacrosse team, and charged him with first-degree murder. He was being held in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.
"We know that there was previously a relationship between the two, although we don't know what the relationship was now," Longo said, adding that there are no other suspects.
Love was dead when police arrived, said Longo, who would not disclose details of her injuries. The cause of death would be determined by an autopsy, he said, adding that no weapon was involved.
Love and Huguely were expected to graduate later this month.
News of the murder sped through the network of high-level lacrosse players, shocking not only them but their families, friends and educators, who immediately began mourning the loss.
Love's coaches and teachers described her as a fun-loving teammate and fine athlete who left an indelible imprint on those around her.
"She was our laughter and she was the core personality" of the 2005-06 team at Notre Dame Prep, said Mary Bartel, the school's lacrosse coach. "She was a happy-go-lucky kid. She was a good soul."
Chris Robinson, the head girls lacrosse coach at the rival McDonogh School, said his inbox filled with "so many texts and e-mails within a two-hour period this morning, everybody saying, 'Did you hear? Did you hear?"
"It is a very small close-knit community who really care for each other and we're not used to some sort of tragedy like this," said Robinson, who never coached Love but remembered her skills. "The community is all behind Notre Dame Prep and the family, and our sympathy goes out to them."
A knock on the door at the family's home at the edge of Oregon Ridge Park was answered by a woman who said Love's relatives would have no comment. After being notified of the death by a Baltimore County police officer, Love's mother, Shannon Donnelly Love, travelled to Charlottesville on Monday, according to the funeral home handling the arrangements. The girl's father died in 2003.
Bartel, a coach for 29 years, had visited the family and said there were doing as well as could be expected.
Charlottesville investigators will examine whether Huguely had been the subject of prior violence complaints, particularly during his relationship with Love, the police chief said.
Huguely was a lacrosse All-American at the Landon School in Bethesda, where he was a quarterback on the football team. Listed in the Virginia athletics media guide as 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing 209 pounds, he played midfield.
The Virginia men's squad finished the regular season with a 14-1 record, and is ranked No. 2 in a Baltimore Sun poll released today. The women's team, ranked fifth by the Sun, has a 14-4 record. Both are expected to play in the NCAA post-season tournament which will crown its champion in Baltimore this month.
The Virginia men's coach, Dom Starsia would not comment Monday. "We're still trying to figure things out," he said.
Parents of other women's lacrosse team members began arriving on campus Monday afternoon to comfort their daughters. The parents were to meet privately to discuss how the team should proceed, according to one of the parents.
University vice president Leonard Sandridge said that the school was "shocked and saddened" at the news, and was offering counseling to those who want it.
Athletic director Craig Littlepage said students "were torn apart" by Love's death.
Love's family has a long connection to Notre Dame Prep, where she also played field hockey and graduated in 2006. Her older sister, named Alexis and known as Lexie, graduated in 2002; their mother and aunts were also alumnae.
"Yeardley was part of a tremendous legacy at the school," said Sister Patricia McCarron, the school's headmistress. "Everyone remembers her as a delightful, friendly and happy person. She brightened the hallways. She brightened the lacrosse field. She was filled with great joy…I'll never forget her contagious smile."
McCarron recalled that when Love received her letter of admission to the University of Virginia, she said it was "like a dream come true" to play lacrosse there.
In an essay she wrote at Notre Dame, Love said, "My life has been filled with joy and happiness and I hope to keep living my life that way."
Christine Kaiser, the dean of students at Notre Dame Prep, said Love was a "sweet, gentle student" who was not defined by lacrosse.
Kaiser recalled how Love volunteered at Our Daily Bread, a downtown soup kitchen and employment center, and spent two weeks each summer at a camp for underpriviledged children.
"She was the sweet child that everyone wanted to have in the classroom," Kaiser said. "She just smiled and put her hand on your arm."
Love was among the many Notre Dame Prep players who have gone on to be standout players for Virginia coach Julie Myers, whose team plays a similar style to that at Notre Dame Prep.
"As solid a player as Yeardley was and for as serious as we'd get sometimes in practice, she just always found an appropriate way of lightening it up," said Bartel, the coach. "She was never the class clown. It was just Yeardley being Yeardley. I don't know that there's a soul in this building that Yeardley ever touched who could say her name without smiling."
UVA president John T. Casteen III said in a statement posted on the school's web site that Love's death "moves us to deep anguish for the loss of a student of uncommon talent and promise."
"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," Casteen said. "We mourn her death and feel anger on reading that the investigators believe that another student caused it."
He concluded by saying that, "however little we may know now about Yeardley Love's death, we do know that she did not have or deserve to die — that she deserved the bright future she earned growing up, studying here, and developing her talents as a lacrosse player.
"She deserves to be remembered for her human goodness, her capacity for future greatness, and not for the terrible way in which her young life has ended."
In 2006, as the Duke University lacrosse team was being rocked by accusations — shown to be unfounded — that some players raped a woman hired to perform as a stripper at a lacrosse party, Huguely was quoted in a Washington Post article saying the players have "been scrutinized so hard and no one knows what has happened yet. In this country, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. I think that's the way it should be."
Huguely's father was also quoted in the article, which focused on Landon lacrosse players and their Duke connections, saying he had discussed with his college-bound son the importance of staying out of situations that could be costly.
"Regardless of what winds up happening, you have to learn from this experience and take what you can from it," George Huguely III said. "You always have to remember and can't let yourself be in a situation where something like this could happen."
Love's sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, announced on its website that a meeting of its members would be held at 5 p.m.
Nevada Thompson, who identified himself at the front door as the sorority's cook for the past four years, said that Love's sorority sisters would not have any comment yet. "We're in mourning," Thompson said.
At the Beta Theta Pi fraternity next door, Bob Arthur, a senior from Winchester, Va., said that the campus had held a memorial service last week for five students who had died in the past year, including a victim of the Haiti earthquake.
"It's definitely shocking, a lot of people have been saying [Monday] it seems like we've had a lot of incidents this year," Arthur said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Liz Bowie, Katherine Dunn and Jacques Kelly contributed to this article. Markus reported from Charlottesville, Va.