Charlottesville police discovered Yeardley Love's family accidentally packed up crime scene evidence when they cleared out her apartment following the University of Virginia senior's death.
Love's family has since returned the evidence -- a black T-shirt police believe Love was wearing the night she died.
Love, 22, was found dead in her Charlottesville apartment in the early hours of May 3, and George Huguely, her former boyfriend and fellow U.Va. lacrosse player, has been charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Love was wearing only panties when authorities found her, so investigators collecting evidence the morning of May 3 did not initially obtain the T-shirt.
Two days later, friends recalled that Love was wearing a black shirt on the night of May 2 and a detective reviewing crime scene photos spotted the clothing laying two feet from the bed where Love's body was found.
"The shirt is not folded and appears to have been dropped on the floor," Charlottesville Detective Lisa Reeves wrote in court documents released last week.
Police obtained a second search warrant and returned to Love's apartment, but her family had cleaned out her bedroom and the shirt was gone.
Love's family has since returned the shirt to police for examination.
Huguely, 22, a Chevy Chase resident and former Landon School lacrosse player, told police he kicked a hole through Love's locked bedroom door on the night she died and found her wearing the T-shirt and panties, search warrants said.
Huguely said an "altercation" ensued, during which he shook the 115-pound Love while her head repeatedly hit a wall.
He said he noticed blood coming from Love's nose during the fight and noted she was still clothed when he pushed her onto her bed and left the apartment.
Police later found Love's body lying face-down on her bed. The right side of her face was blackened with a large bruise, and her right eye was swollen shut -- injuries that "appeared to have been caused by blunt force trauma," Reeves wrote. Her chin also was covered in scrapes and bruises.
The Virginia Chief Medical Examiner's Office has ruled Love's death a homicide and determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Huguely is being held without bail in 23-hour solitary confinement in the Albemarle County Jail. He is given one hour a day to make phone calls and bathe.