"I thought he was kind of happy-go-lucky, not as serious or career-minded as the other kids," she says. "I didn't see the other side of him at all."
Three months before her death, Yeardley had called, her mother says, upset about a fight with Huguely that had turned physical. "I thought he had held her down," Sharon Love says of how she remembers her daughter describing the altercation.
Love says she urged her daughter to call the police, but Yeardley told her that Huguely was remorseful and was keeping to himself. With graduation so close and each planning to move to opposite coasts, Yeardley told her, "it would be fine," Love says.
They arranged to meet in Annapolis, Love says, where they had dinner and drove back to Baltimore. They spent the next day together, with Yeardley accompanying her to work, but deciding to go back to U.Va. in time for her next lacrosse practice.
The fight with Huguely turned out to have been more serious: Another lacrosse player testified at the trial that he was at a party at Huguely's apartment complex when he heard cries for help from behind a door. Opening it, he saw Huguely with a chokehold on Love, whom he released after the other player entered the room.
Preventing more violence
This spring, Love filed two civil suits, one against Huguely and other against the University of Virginia and its lacrosse and athletic officials, charging them with negligence in her daughter's death. Each suit seeks about $30 million in damages.
"With George, the main thing was I didn't know how long his sentence would be. I just didn't want him walking out of jail and having his whole life handed back to him," she says. "I would hope he would have to work and earn a living."
Love says there were warning signs that Huguely's drinking problem and violent streak were growing out of control. At his sentencing hearing, a former teammate testified that Huguely beat him after learning he had left a party with Yeardley, an incident that both players discussed with their coach. A woman testified that Huguely grabbed her by the throat, angry that she had told her father, his high school lacrosse coach, that she was concerned about his drinking.
"I felt there were lots of signals that should have been addressed," Love says. "If you don't sue, it just goes away."
Love hopes the new mobile app and PSA will encourage earlier intervention in cases of relationship violence.
The PSA, produced by the Hunt Valley-based Renegade Communications to run on TV and online, shows a young man increasingly growing violent during an argument with a woman as observers rationalize to themselves why they aren't intervening. It's powerful — even without knowing the parallels to what happened to Love — and directs viewers to the new app that walks possible victims and friends through an assessment of relationship violence that is based on research conducted by Campbell, the Hopkins professor.
Campbell, who is advising the Love foundation, says she followed the trial and was struck by how closely it tracked the work she did developing a risk assessment for relationship violence turning to homicide.
"Being a mom myself, I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, if we could use what we learned through my research and what she has learned in these tragic events, to prevent it from happening again,'" Campbell says.
The Love case also caught the attention of Kim Ward, who with her husband, Michael Ward, the CEO of CSX Corp., have a foundation that funds programs for youth. The foundation has given $1 million to One Love to help it combat and raise awareness of relationship violence, particularly among young people.
"College is an important time — often that's where you meet the person you're going to marry," Kim Ward says. "We want to show young people that if someone is exhibiting that kind of behavior when they're young, it only gets worse as you get older."
For Sharon Love, the focus on relationship violence marks a new direction for the foundation she created in response to the outpouring of support she received in the wake of the murder. Initially, the foundation raised money for a new turf field, dedicated this month at Notre Dame Prep in Towson, as well as for scholarships and new lacrosse teams in the city. There were plans for community work involving the elderly. Such activities seemed a fitting way to honor the athletic young woman who always had a soft spot for older people.
"Our first thoughts were not to get into the domestic violence area," Love says. "Yeardley didn't seem to fit the categories. She was strong. She didn't put up with anything. … Regardless, she was a victim."
That Yeardley was not someone who typically would seem like a victim of relationship violence makes her that much stronger a symbol for raising awareness of how pervasive it is, Campbell says.