Charlottesville, Va. — 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 School for Girls 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 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 were in mourning.
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 2005-2006 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, traveled to Charlottesville on Monday, according to the funeral home handling the arrangements. The Virginia student's father died in 2003.
Bartel, a coach for 29 years, had visited the family and said they 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 and weighing 209 pounds, he played midfield.
Huguely played both varsity lacrosse and varsity football, and was co-captain of the lacrosse team in his senior year, School spokeswoman Jean Erstlin confirmed that Huguely played varsity lacrosse and football, but said that Landon had no comment on his arrest.
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 postseason 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. 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 the school was "shocked and saddened," 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 Alexis, 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."