CHARLOTTESVILLE Va. – Yeardley Love was entering the best time of her life.
The woman from Cockeysville, Md., who said she always dreamed of playing lacrosse at Virginia, was only weeks from earning a degree and she and her teammates were expecting to end their season by winning a national championship.
It ended Monday morning when Love was found dead in her apartment.
Hours later, police took George Huguely, a senior on the Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team, into custody, charging him with first-degree murder. They gave no details of how the 22-year-old died, or why, but said the two had been in a relationship at some point.
Huguely, also 22, of Chevy Chase, Md., emerged quickly as the prime suspect in the case, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said, but did not say why.
Huguely was being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
Love’s body was to be taken to Richmond for an autopsy, Longo said.
Love’s roommate called police around 2:15 a.m. concerned that Love may have had an alcohol overdose, Longo said, but police found her dead with obvious physical injuries.
He said he did not believe any weapons were used in the killing.
Speaking on three television networks Tuesday morning, Longo declined to give many details in the case, citing the ongoing investigation. Longo did say investigators planned to interview teammates and friends about the nature of the relationship between Love and Huguely.
As the news trickled throughout campus, a steady stream of students preparing for finals later in the week wandered down the apartment-lined street where Love’s body was found. Drivers slowed down and pointed as they approached the building.
Suggestions it may have been a domestic situation did little to ease concerns.
“Just to hear that anybody in the U.Va. community could be suspected of that, regardless of the relationship, does give you a sense of unease,” said Drew Cook, 22, of Burke, said.
Kyle Cecil, 22, of Newport News, said he lived on the same hall as Huguely as freshman and knew him well enough to say hello. He was shocked to see police cars at the building on his way to class, and more shocked when he learned of Huguely’s arrest on a murder charge.
Leonard Sandridge, executive vice president of the university, told reporters the campus was saddened and that the pain is magnified because the accused is “one of our own.”
The lacrosse teams met at least once during the day, but lacrosse players and school officials declined repeatedly to comment during the day, referring to a school statement.
The men’s and women’s lacrosse seasons both teams are national title contenders were “not even entering into our thoughts,” Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said.
The NCAA tournament pairings are to be announced Sunday. The men’s team is expected to host a first-round game and the women’s team is also anticipating being included.
Huguely, a midfielder, wasn’t a starter but played in all 15 games this season. He had four goals and three assists. Love played defense and started in three games this season.
Love was “described as an angel by teammates and friends,” Littlepage said.
She played varsity lacrosse and field hockey for four years at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore, and was recalled as an outstanding and wonderful person, said Sister Patricia McCarron, headmistress of the school.
“Yeardley was the core of the personality of the team. She was our laughter, a good soul. She always found an appropriate way to lighten things up,” said Mary Bartel, who coached lacrosse at Notre Dame Prep. “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.”
University President John Casteen said in a release on the university’s website that Love “deserved the bright future she earned growing up, studying here and developing her talents as a lacrosse player,” he said. “She deserves to be remembered for her human goodness, her capacity for future greatness, and for the terrible way in which her young life has ended.”
Huguely attended the Landon School, a private school in Bethesda, Md. It is the same prep school that at least one of the Duke lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a team party in 2006 attended. The charges later were dismissed.
Huguely played both varsity lacrosse and varsity football, and was co-captain of the lacrosse team in his senior year, school spokeswoman Jean Erstlin said.
She said the school had no comment on his arrest.
Associated Press Writers Dena Potter in Richmond, Va., and Dave Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.