On May 3, 2010, University of Virginia student Yeardley Love was found beaten to death in her apartment — and her ex-boyfriend George Huguely was soon arrested.
The future seemed bright for Yeardley Love in May 2010. A senior at the University of Virginia, Love was just three weeks away from graduation. She had big plans to move to New York. And she had even seemingly patched things up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, George Huguely, with whom she was seen holding hands on the night of May 2nd.
But just hours later, it would all take a terrible, violent turn. At around 11:45 p.m., Huguely showed up at Love’s apartment in Charlottesville, enraged and severely inebriated. He forced his way inside, smashed Love’s head against the wall repeatedly, stole her laptop, and stalked out into the night.
At about 2 a.m. on May 3rd, Love’s roommate found her unresponsive, face down, and severely injured in her room. Tragically, the 22-year-old was dead. And George Huguely was soon charged with her murder.
This is the tragic true story of Yeardley Love.
The Girl Who Wanted To Play Lacrosse
Born on July 17, 1987, in Baltimore, Maryland, Yeardley Love knew she wanted to play lacrosse from a young age. And she knew exactly where she wanted to play it. According to ESPN, Love was just 10 years old when she told her mother that she wanted to play lacrosse at the University of Virginia (UVA), the same school that her father had attended as a student.
Love then spent the next several years chasing her dream. As The Washingtonian reports, lacrosse was already in her blood. Her father, who died of cancer when Love was in high school, had loved lacrosse. And Love’s uncle had played varsity lacrosse at UVA. Love played both lacrosse and field hockey at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore County, and was soon on the radar of UVA coach Julie Myers as a potential player.
After high school, Love was recruited to play her dream sport at her dream school. Though she was small — just 5’6″ and 115 pounds — Love soon impressed her teammates with her tenacious attitude.
“[Love] was like a pit bull out there,” remembered Whit Hagerman Willocks, a UVA lacrosse team captain in 2010, the year that Love died. “She was so strong that you were like, ‘How are you even doing that?’ She held her own in every instance because she was so speedy and feisty.”
But Yeardley Love’s involvement in UVA lacrosse would also lead her to her future killer. As a freshman, she met a fellow player named George Huguely.
Yeardley Love’s Tumultuous Relationship With George Huguely
During the summer of 2007, Yeardley Love and George Huguely began a turbulent relationship that would continue, on-again and off-again, for more than two years. The Washingtonian says that Love initially liked Huguely’s “swagger” and “teddy-bear” nature. But Huguely also had a violent side that sometimes emerged, especially after he’d been drinking heavily.
In November 2008, Huguely got into an altercation with a female police officer after she found him stumbling home drunk in traffic. When she told him to find a ride home, the 6’2″, 209-pound Huguely responded by threatening her and another female officer: “I’ll kill all you bitches.”
The officer had to use her Taser to subdue Huguely, who eventually pled guilty to resisting arrest and public intoxication. His own attorney insisted that Huguely had been so drunk that he just “did not remember doing or saying any of those things, really.” As a punishment, Huguely had to pay a $100 fine and serve 50 hours of community service.
In February 2009, Huguely attacked a teammate — in his sleep — because Huguely had heard that the teammate had kissed Love. That time, no charges were filed against Huguely. Then, about a year later, in February 2010, Huguely was seen placing Love in a chokehold during a party.
As time went on, the turmoil and abuse escalated. In April 2010, Love threw her purse at Huguely after she learned that he’d gone out with one of her sorority sisters. A few days later, Huguely sent a furious email to Love after learning that she’d gone out with another lacrosse player. The email included the line: “I should have killed you.”
“You should have killed me?” Love replied. “You’re so f**ked up.”
Despite this, she agreed to meet Huguely when he asked to talk. And by May 2nd, the two seemed to have reconciled. The Associated Press reports that the pair were seen holding hands while they were spending time with Huguely’s family at a bar, and when Love was asked about her relationship with Huguely, she told a friend: “Same old stuff. Everything is good.”
But just hours later, George Huguely would beat Yeardley Love to death.
The Brutal Death Of Yeardley Love
At around 11:45 p.m. on May 2nd, George Huguely made his way to Yeardley Love’s apartment, where Love had decided to turn in early. By then, Huguely was extremely drunk. His attorney later claimed that he’d had up to 50 drinks in the past 30 hours after he celebrated his final lacrosse game.
But Huguely wasn’t just severely inebriated. He was also violently enraged. Prosecutors would later contend that he’d just learned that Love had slept with a lacrosse player from the University of North Carolina.
The door to Love’s apartment was unlocked, but Huguely still forced his way into Love’s bedroom. Kicking the door in, he pushed his way inside and attacked her. A student living in the apartment below Love recalled hearing arguing, loud banging, and then silence. Huguely later admitted that he’d shook Love, knocking her head against the wall, before he shoved her back into bed. Then he left with her laptop, which he threw in a nearby dumpster.
“We were just going to talk,” Huguely later claimed. “It was not at all a good conversation… We were wrestling. I pushed her onto the bed and left.”
A few hours later, around 2 a.m., Love’s roommate came home. Seeing a hole in Love’s bedroom door, she rushed inside and found the 22-year-old unresponsive and laying face down on a pillow. Love had a large bruise on the right side of her face and her right eye was swollen shut. A medical examiner would later testify that she also had bruises on her hands, forearm, buttocks, and thighs — some of which were “shaped like fingerprints” — as well as hemorrhaging of the neck.
Shortly after Love’s roommate called 911, Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad members arrived at the apartment. They attempted to save Love’s life, but she was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.
Soon afterward, the police tracked down George Huguely, who admitted that he’d gone to see Yeardley Love, but was incredulous when investigators told him she had died. “[T]here’s no way she can be dead,” Huguely said, again and again. But repeating it couldn’t change what he had done. Love was dead, and Huguely was soon charged with her murder.
The Aftermath Of A Tragic Murder
The murder of Yeardley Love sent shockwaves through UVA’s campus. George Huguely’s 2012 trial was arguably just as shocking.
Despite his prior abuse of Love — and the threatening email that he sent her shortly before killing her — the jury decided there wasn’t enough proof that the murder was premeditated. So Huguely was ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder (which would’ve been a more serious conviction). He was sentenced to just 23 years in prison.
During a subsequent wrongful death lawsuit against him, Huguely claimed that he remembered only a few details about the night that Yeardley Love died, like that she’d had a bloody nose. But he said that his memory from that night had mostly disappeared due to his excessive drinking. He was ultimately found liable and was ordered to pay $15 million in damages.
Though that’s little consolation for Love’s family, they have tried to make something out of the tragedy. Her mother Sharon Love started the One Love Foundation in 2012, stating that she wanted the foundation “to do for domestic violence what Mothers Against Drunk Drivers did for drunk driving.”
The foundation’s website says: “One Love Foundation is a national non-profit with the goal of ending relationship abuse. We empower young people with tools and resources to see the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships and bring life-saving prevention education to their communities.”
As ESPN reports, the organization focuses on reaching teen girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24. So far, the foundation’s workshops have reached more than 1.1 million people and its online content has been viewed over 100 million times by people all over the world.
But for Sharon Love, the pain of losing her daughter hasn’t gone away.
“The number of years doesn’t change anything,” she told ESPN. “It can feel like 100 years ago one day and 10 minutes another day. Her friends getting married and having babies… that’s what makes me miss her the most.”
After reading about the murder of Yeardley Love, see how actress Dominique Dunne was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend in 1982. Or, read about 16-year-old Erin Caffey, who convinced her boyfriend to murder her family.