NBC29 Exclusive: One-on-One with Yeardley Love's Mother
The murder of former University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love rocked the Charlottesville community almost three years ago. In February 2012, Yeardley's on-again off-again boyfriend, former UVA lacrosse player George Huguely, was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in connection with her death.
Now Yeardley's mother is speaking out about her daughter's murder and her killer. In a story only on NBC29, Henry Graff sat down with Sharon Love to talk about the case from the moment she found out her daughter was murdered, to the trial and what future good will come out of Yeardley's tragic death.
Yeardley was murdered on May 3, 2010 at her apartment on 14th Street in Charlottesville. According to court testimony, Yeardley and Huguely got into a fight on that night. He repeatedly hit her head against a wall and left her face-down on her bed in a pool of blood. The murder captured national headlines and thrust an everyday family into a spotlight they never wanted to face.
Three years ago Sharon was doing what most mothers should have been doing, planning her second daughter's graduation. But things changed in the blink of an eye and that graduation planning turned into a funeral.
A knock at the door changed Sharon Love's life forever. "I had no idea why policemen were at my door at 6 o'clock in the morning," she stated. "I thought maybe my dog was barking and bothering the neighbors."
But that's not why Maryland police were at Love's home in Cockeysville. "They asked me if I was Yeardley's mother and I don't even remember what I thought after that. It really was a blur," she said.
The officers broke the news that her daughter had died. In the coming hours, the family would begin down a path of coping with a death and dealing with a homicide investigation.
"It was surreal being in Charlottesville for that and not having Yeardley there, it just didn't make sense," Sharon stated.
Things quickly began to make sense when she met with police and the prosecutor. Authorities went through the gruesome details of what they found inside Yeardley's apartment and told a grieving mother that it was Huguely who took her life with his own two hands.
When asked if she thought Huguely meant to kill Yeardley, Sharon replied, "I know he did kill her. I know he did. I can't imagine anybody who would even do anything harmful to Yeardley. I don't know what was in his head. I just know he did it and he killed her."
While police knew who was responsible within a few hours of Yeardley's death, it took almost two years for the trial of George Huguely to play out. When it finally did, her family was forced into the private details about Yeardley's life. So much came up at the trial, including relationship details that most parents don't want to know about.
At some points it was too much for Sharon and Yeardley's sister Lexie, they had to step out of the courtroom. "You really didn't want to be there, but on the other hand you really wanted to be there," Sharon stated.
Attending her daughter's murder trial brought about conflicted feelings, Sharon and her family had to endure 13 days of testimony about the death of Yeardley, while each day they were just feet from her killer.
"I didn't recognize him. He looked so entirely different. He looked so young and little," she said about Huguely.
It was a far cry from the 6-foot-2-inch, 209-pound lacrosse player she had come to know as her daughter's boyfriend. Sharon says he is a man she can't think about forgiving.
"My biggest concern is Yeardley and I feel strongly that my allegiance is with her, so if I broach that, to some extent, I feel like I'm not being, I need to protect Yeardley," she stated.
The Love family protected Yeardley day after day through the trial, facing a sea of media as they walked into Charlottesville Circuit Court with cameras capturing every face and reporters publishing every intimate and graphic detail about Yeardley and George's tumultuous relationship.
In the end, the jury came back with a second-degree murder conviction and Huguely was ultimately sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Mrs. Love says the jury and judge did their jobs. "I feel like I'm almost unqualified to make that decision because they only outcome I'd like to have is to have Yeardley back again."
At this point, Sharon has no unanswered questions and says if she were put in the same room with Huguely, she'd likely have nothing to say. "I don't know what I'd ask him because I don't know if I'd get a straight answer. And that would be just infuriating to me."
But surprisingly what is not infuriating to Mrs. Love is the fact that nobody spoke up in days prior to Yeardley's death. In all the court testimony, so many missed opportunities came to the surface, red flags, signs that if addressed could have brought about a different outcome.
"I don't fault anyone for not doing something, because nobody really thought this was at all possible," she said.
Sharon is now making it her life's mission to make sure people do understand relationship violence is a real issue and can affect anyone. Sharon has retired from her career as a school teacher to begin a new lesson plan in life. She is now leading the charge to prevent another loss of life through the One Love Foundation.
"If Yeardley had to die I'm so glad that so much good will come out of her death," she stated.
Sharon admits she knew nothing about relationship violence before May 3, 2010 but Yeardley's death and the eventual prosecution of her killer is giving the One Love Foundation the steam needed to bring about change.
The foundation was setup shortly after Yeardley's death to address relationship violence head-on.
"We hope to drag that out into the light of day and make people discuss it," she stated.
Since George Huguely's conviction the foundation has taken off. Sharon is on the front lines, talking with anyone who will hold an audience, partnering with universities to create a relationship violence phone app and flooding the internet and airwaves with one message: "Don't wait for a day. Don't wait for an hour. Speak up immediately."
Sharon sifts through an endless pile of letters at the One Love Foundation office just outside Baltimore. Letters from those touched by the death of her daughter, including one where a woman says Yeardley's tragic story gave her the strength to get out of an abusive relationship.
"That's what we're hoping everyone will find the strength to do eventually." Sharon said. "It's letters like these that we realize we're not just spinning our wheels, that it's really working."
Today Sharon pushes thoughts about the man who killed her daughter out of her mind but she can't help thinking about what could have been. Yeardley wanted to be a lawyer, majoring in political science at UVA. She was also an athlete, a standout on the lacrosse field.
Sharon says she's a proud mother, "I probably couldn't be any prouder. She was, everything she did was positive, and she was just so kind."
It's that kindness that Yeardley's mother says she misses most. As time passes for the Love family, missing one of their own, Sharon admits time does not help her heart heal. "I don't think so. I don't think so. It goes on and on. It changes though. We miss her every day."
Yeardley's room remains the same inside Sharon's home. She says at this point that it's just easier to keep the door closed. But she does know that one day she and Lexie will have to go through Yeardley's belongings.
The Love family is moving forward, putting the sadness of Yeardley's death behind them as best they can. Lexie got married last September. Sharon says she thought it would be bittersweet without Yeardley, but she said things were as perfect as they could be. Yeardley was slated to be the maid of honor. She was listed with that distinction in the program.
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