What we learned from the Love and Petito cases

Mia Pisani, Lifestyle Editor

After several physical altercations, Brian Laundrie strangled his fiancee Gabby Petito to death. George Huguely had numerous physical incidents with his girlfriend Yeardley Love to death before eventually beating her to death.  About one third of women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners according to the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Love, a member of the University of Virginia (UVA) women’s lacrosse team, had an on and off relationship with Huguely due to his violent behavior towards her, particularly caused by his drinking. Huguely sent Love threatening texts and emails. Hugely also attacked one of his teammates on the men’s lacrosse team after hearing he had kissed and walked Love home. Love had broken up with Huguely in February 2010, after he drunkenly attacked and pinned her down.

“I should’ve killed you,” Huguely wrote in an email to Love prior to the attack.

On May 3, 2010, at 2:15 a.m. Love was pronounced dead at her apartment due to blunt force trauma. The next day, Huguely was charged with murder. 

Ms. Love’s death was not intended but an accident with a tragic outcome,” Fran Lawrence, Huguely’s attorney, said. 

Even if he had no intention to kill, Huguely kicked in her door, slammed Love’s head against the wall, choked her and ultimately murdered her. She was found face down on her pillow, in a pool of blood. When she was turned over, rescue-squad members saw a large bruise on her face, her right eye swollen shut and a bruised chin. 

Sharon Love, Yeardley Love’s mother, filed a lawsuit against the UVA men’s lacrosse head coach, associate coach and director of athletics, alleging gross negligence. The suit alleged no action was taken despite the knowledge of Huguely’s threats and aggressive behavior. 

Gabby Petito’s case is all too similar. 

On Aug. 12, 2021, in the midst of Petito and Laundrie’s road trip, police responded to a 911 call from a witness, describing a physical altercation between Petito and Laundrie. Petito told police that Laundrie told her to stop talking and shut up multiple times, then grabbed her face and pushed her. She showed officers wounds from the altercation, the nail marks from Laundrie on her face, then claimed she had hit her fiance first and begged them to not separate the pair. 

On Sept. 19, Petito was found dead by strangulation. Although it has not yet been proved Laudrie is responsible for her death, he is a main person of interest.

Laundrie’s remains and belongings were found by his parents house at Florida’s Carlton Reserve on Oct. 20. He went missing Sept. 14, three days after Petito was reported missing. The autopsy showed inconlcusive reports, but Florida sherrifs have suspected suicide. 

Both women had previous altercations with their killers. Their reported physical incidents, to threats, to other signs of abuse went neglected, or maybe just unnoticed. 

Had these altercations been addressed properly, Love and Petito might still be alive today.

Sharon Love has since founded the One Love Foundation in order to spread awareness about relationship abuse and help others recognize the signs of abuse, in order to prevent future cases like Love’s. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of dating abuse, notify the National Dating Abuse Hotline by calling 1-866-331-9474. Or if you want to learn more about healthy relationships and the warning signs of dating violence, you can use the website Love Is Respect by going to loveisrespect.org or by texting “loveis” to 22522.