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Tragic Loss and Grave Adversity Face the University and Lacrosse Communities

Yeardley Love, courtesy UVa Media RelationsThe University of Virginia community woke up to tragic news this morning, as an email from Mike Gibson, Chief of Police, alerted students, faculty, and staff that the Charlottesville Police Department was conducting an investigation on the death of a student in her home on 14th Street.  As the day progressed, we learned that this student was Yeardley Love, a senior defender on the No. 4-ranked Virginia women’s lacrosse team.  We then learned that the Charlottesville Police had arrested and charged George Huguely, a senior on the No. 1-ranked Virginia men’s lacrosse team, with first degree murder. (UPDATED 5/4/10 9:24 a.m.)

Understandably, the police have not revealed much detail about the investigation.  Based on the police news conference held Monday afternoon, we know that the police were notified around 2:15 a.m. by her roommates, concerned that Love may have had an alcohol overdose.  Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo says that Love was dead upon arrival.

Huguely and Love had previously been in a romantic relationship, and Huguely lived nearby.  To Longo’s knowledge, no weapons had been involved, and Love’s body was being transported to Richmond for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.  He did, however, indicate that she had suffered visible physical trauma. Longo also mentioned that, to his knowledge, Huguely had no previous criminal record, though reports have surfaced on the internet of past convictions as public swearing and intoxication and resisting arrest.

The police chief commented that there were currently no other suspects, but noted that it was still early in the investigation.

Huguely is currently being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. According to WJLA ABC 7 News, Huguely’s first court appearance is Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.  Both the men’s and women’s teams reportedly met Monday evening to discuss the incident, though no decision has been announced.  As of Monday afternoon, Athletics Director Craig Littlepage said that the tournament was "not even entering our thoughts," and that "it is not unusual for young people who are affected by this to try to get back to some things that are normal." (UPDATED 5/4/10 9:24 a.m.: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that both teams have decided to continue their post-season playoffs.)

So that’s the story, and of course we’ll keep you updated as we learn more throughout the next few days, weeks, months and beyond.  Words cannot begin to describe how deeply saddened I am to learn of these developments.  Family and close friends aside, I love my alma mater more than anything in this world.  And so while I did not know 22-year old Yeardley Love, I can’t help but get that sinking feeling – and yes, even a little teary-eyed – every time I read more about this story. It's inexplicable, but I suppose this is all part of being a member of the University of Virginia family.

Littlepage further said that Love was "a person who was described as an angel by teammates and friends."

In a statement released by University President John Casteen, he stated that Love "did not have or deserve to die… 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."

"Yeardley was the core of the personality of the team," said Mary Bartel, Love’s lacrosse coach at Notre Dame Prep and who Love had considered her most influential person of her lacrosse career.  "She was our laughter, a good soul. She always found an appropriate way to lighten things up. … I don't think there is a soul in this building who couldn't say her name without smiling. Yeardley loved NDP, and NDP loved her. She was a good soul and an outstanding athlete."

"Our kids are devastated, for one because of the loss of the Virginia team and family of Yeardley," Maryland’s men’s lacrosse coach, Dave Cottle, said. "They’re devastated for the family. She’s a friend of members of our team and staff. We’re devastated to hear the news."

Love had mentioned in 2009 that "One great thing about our team is that we do everything together." Today, that team mourns.

"I had wanted to play lacrosse at Virginia since I was little, so coming here was like a dream come true," Love had previously said.  A dream which ending just hadn’t yet played out.

Our thoughts are with Love’s family, teammates, and friends during this dark hour.

George Huguely, courtesy UVa Media RelationsAt the same time, our thoughts are also with George Huguely, as well as his family, teammates, and friends.  We’d also like to take a moment to remind our readers that our judicial system presumes innocence, until proven guilty.  While the police were quick to arrest and charge Huguely, we must remember that, if indeed he is innocent, what we say and type on these interwebs will affect this young man’s life forever going forward.

As a middie, Huguely has played in all fifteen games of his senior career, and was honored this past weekend on Senior Day against Robert Morris.  He has had four goals and three assists this season and is a reliable bench option.

Huguely is an anthropology major and the Vice President of Operation Smile at Virginia.

According to the Washington Post, when reached by phone, his grandfather, George Huguely III, replied, "He was a wonderful child and he was going to graduate. Hopefully he will be graduating. That's all I can tell you, okay? I'm sorry."

The Huguely family name is no stranger to the Washington, D.C. area.  The Washington Examiner reports that the Huguelys are prominent in Bethesda, MD, but private.  The family has, for nearly 100 years, provided lumber and construction supplies to D.C. area builders and government agencies.  Huguely’s great grandfather co-founded Galliher & Huguely in Northwest Washington in 1912, and bought out his partner in 1929.

According to the Examiner, George and his father were scheduled to play in the 21st Annual Landon School Alumni Golf Tournament later in May.

Again, I implore readers not only to support the Love family, but also Huguely and his family.  Until the autopsy is performed and the police are able to uncover and release more details, I ask that we not assume his guilt as a means to deal with our sorrow.

If you have any additional information, please call Charlottesville Police Sergeant Mark Brake at (434) 970-3970 or Crime Stoppers at (434) 977-4000.

If you are a student in need of support at this time, or know of a student in need of support, please contact the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services at (434) 243-5150 for appointments, and (434) 972-7004 for after-hours emergencies. Also for emergencies, you should contact the University police and ask for the dean-on-call, who is available 24/7.  Faculty and staff in need of support should contact the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) at (434) 243-2643.

Please note that we are continuing to provide updates here.