University of Virginia mourns dead lacrosse star Yeardley Love

Virginia's players honor deceased teammate Yeardley Love in their 14-12 victory over Towson in the NCAA tournament.
By Zachary Berman and Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, May 7, 2010

In the days after the death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love, the campus was quiet, almost as if the community were collectively paralyzed by shock.

On Thursday, Thomas Jefferson's university seemed to reawaken and respond. On the day after a cathartic candlelight vigil and an emotional speech by university President John T. Casteen III, students, faculty and campus leaders settled into the rituals of mourning Love, a senior lacrosse star who, police say, was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend Monday.

Students organized a campus-wide effort to dress Friday in orange and blue, the school's colors, a public gesture of unity in honor of the slain senior. A special Mass was scheduled for noon Friday at the university chapel. Love's sorority sisters said they would work to establish an endowment in her honor, in addition to funds set up by the Love family at U-Va.'s athletic foundation and her high school in suburban Baltimore.

The Love family prepared for a public wake Friday at a Towson, Md., funeral home. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Saturday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, with the private burial to follow.

In Charlottesville, the women's lacrosse team practiced Thursday for the first time since losing Love. The caravan of national media that had stalked the campus for three days began to disperse. Students sat for their first day of final exams, and many others hunched over notes and books, studying for tests to come. There still was an air of loss, but Charlottesville was starting to resemble a college town again.

"I think it has been hard on everyone in different ways," said Sarah Storti, 25, a graduate student in English. "For this to happen any time is awful, but right now, right before finals, right before graduation, it's just horrible."

She said that as the news grew from "people talking about it in coffee shops" Monday to a national story, friends across the country called to ask her about it, including an old boyfriend she hadn't spoken to in five years.

"It's just kind of overwhelming. It's really odd to be part of a national thing like this," Storti said.

Love, 22, died Monday after a violent argument with her former boyfriend, George Huguely, also 22. Huguely, who hails from a prominent Chevy Chase family, told police that he shook Love during the altercation, causing her head to "repeatedly hit the wall," according to a court document. An attorney for Huguely said the death was accidental.

An emotional speech by Casteen, who said Love will receive a posthumous degree, drew sobs from the audience at a vigil Wednesday for Love.

"Yeardley Love did nothing to deserve to be attacked and beaten," he said, "to deserve to suffer the injuries of which we've all read, to deserve to die."

Police focused attention Thursday on a Charlottesville bar where some think Love and Huguely argued in the hours before her death. Detectives reviewed surveillance tapes but did not spot Huguely, said Bob Hadley, father of the bar's owner.

In November 2008, Huguely was arrested after a drunken scuffle with a female police officer in Lexington, Va. She used a Taser to subdue Huguely, who pleaded guilty to several charges, received a 60-day suspended sentence and completed 20 hours of substance abuse education.

Two months before Love's death, a group of current and former University of North Carolina lacrosse players intervened to separate Huguely from Love at a party on the U-Va. campus, according to two sources with knowledge of the incident. The UNC players were in Charlottesville visiting friends.

Court records show that Huguely is one of eight men's lacrosse team members charged with alcohol-related offenses during their careers at U-Va. University officials have not said how many of the offenses were known to them.

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