The complex life of murder suspect George Huguely

U.Va. lacrosse player accused of killing ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love was a young man of privilege and rage

May 23, 2010|By David Nakamura, Steve Yanda and Daniel de Vise, Washington Post

On the day before he was charged with first-degree murder, George Huguely V walked the fairways and greens of Charlottesville's exclusive Farmington Country Club, the Blue Ridge Mountains at his back.

The University of Virginia men's lacrosse team, ranked best in the nation, had just won the last regular-season game of Huguely's senior year. The 22-year-old and some teammates had gathered at the club with their fathers to celebrate the storybook ending and to look forward to the NCAA tournament.

Within hours, according to police, Huguely would kick down the bedroom door of his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love, and smash her head repeatedly against a wall.

On Sunday, while his classmates finish their school careers amid the pomp and pride of a U-Va. graduation ceremony and his teammates play a quarterfinal tournament game, Huguely will remain in the 4-by-8-foot jail cell he has occupied since police found Love facedown in a pool of her own blood on May 3. She was buried 15 days ago.

The two sides of the George Wesley Huguely who could stroll a manicured golf course in the afternoon and allegedly commit an unfathomable act of fury in the wee hours of the next morning were not unknown to his friends and teammates. Huguely had a mercurial temperament. He was sometimes chivalrous, occasionally savage. He drank prodigiously, and that habit had resulted in previous violence.

"Every time I see Yeardley's face on a magazine, I want to die. None of us can believe this actually happened. It doesn't click. It doesn't jibe. It doesn't work," said one family friend. "The George we knew wasn't capable of that. There had to be a different George that was inside that head."

This picture of Huguely and Love, herself a U-Va. lacrosse player, is incomplete because most of those close to them declined to speak to The Washington Post. Neither of their families would speak to reporters. Others asked for anonymity out of respect to the Loves or because the police investigation is continuing. Public records and statements by police and university officials tell only pieces of the story.

* * *

Huguely was a child of divorce but knew few other deprivations. He spent some of his teenage years in a million-dollar yellow brick home on a 1.5-acre corner lot in Potomac, where a boar's head hung over the fireplace. His round face came from his mother, Marta, a part-time model at Saks Fifth Avenue.

He was "the most friendly kid I've ever met," someone who "shook your hand and looked you in the eye," said Michael Mullally, a family friend and business associate of Huguely's father.

Huguely's great-great-grandfather co-founded the Galliher & Huguely lumber yard in Northwest Washington in 1912. The family invested in racehorses and a 1,000-unit apartment complex. Some family members had lifetime memberships at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase and the Annapolis and Corinthian yacht clubs.

Before Huguely reached his teens, the Huguely family splintered in an ugly divorce. A legal agreement from 1997 required that George Huguely IV and his ex-wife would speak by telephone every Tuesday at 9 p.m. They could discuss the children -- George and his younger sister, Teran -- only if neither child was in earshot. The parents pledged in court not to criticize each other.

Huguely finished the eighth grade at Mater Dei School in Bethesda and matriculated to nearby Landon School, an elite boys' private school. He did not want for confidence. Thrust into a football game as a freshman, he promised a coach he would make a big play -- in exchange for a kiss from the coach's fiancee, according to a Washington Post profile in 2006. Huguely promptly intercepted a pass, then walked off the field to ask for the fiancee's number.

He was the starting quarterback in his senior year and led Landon to a conference title. In lacrosse, he amassed the fifth-largest goal total in school history.

Huguely also displayed an irreverent side. Once he stole his coach's car keys from his office, pulled his car onto the lacrosse field and, from the driver's seat, struck up a conversation with the coach. The team burst out laughing, according to Huguely's account.

That same year, Huguely spoke about accusations of rape -- later refuted -- against the Duke University lacrosse team, whose roster included five players from Landon. Although Huguely had no connection to the incident, he told The Post: "I sympathize for the team," he said. "In this country, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."

Huguely went to U-Va. to play lacrosse, but he was not the star he was at Landon. He was more the team jester, although his humor could be sharp. He had a running joke about the fixation other players had with the "flow" of their hair as it trailed beneath their lacrosse helmets.

He was still cocky but lacked some of his teammates' discipline. He let his 6-1, 200-pound body go soft. Teammates branded him "Fuguely," a mashup of his name and a common vulgarity.

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