Michelle Carter: 5 Facts About The Conrad Roy Suicide Texting Case
The Massachusetts woman went to prison for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself.
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Michelle Carter arrives at Taunton District Court in Taunton, MA on Jun. 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial. Carter is charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging 18-year-old Conrad Roy III to kill himself in July 2014.
CW: mentions of suicide
On July 13, 2014, Conrad Roy III, hooked up a hose to a generator inside his pickup truck and took his own life by carbon monoxide poisoning in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The suicide then turned into a manslaughter case after investigators discovered the 18-year-old high school honor roll student’s girlfriend, Michelle Carter, 17, sent texts encouraging him to kill himself. Ahead are five facts about the case that shocked the nation.
Roy and Carter Met by Chance While Away from Home
Roy and Carter were both raised in Massachusetts — he was from Mattapoisett and she lived in Plainville, an hour’s drive away — but the two, who both struggled with depression, first met in Florida while on vacation with their families in 2012. Back home, they reportedly saw each other in person a total of just five times but kept in touch online and through texts and phone calls.
Disturbing Texts Reveal Roy and Carter’s Complicated Relationship
The Bristol County District Attorney's Office released text exchanges between Roy and Carter from the weeks leading up to his death. “So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined,” Carter wrote in one message, to which Roy replied: “I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.” In another text, Roy seemed to back off going through with a plan to kill himself, writing to Carter that it was “already light outside” and he was “gonna go back to sleep.” Her response: “No. It’s probably the best time now because everyone is sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck and no one is really out there right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it, and you can say you’ll do it tomorrow, but you probably won’t. Tonight? Love you.”
A Judge Ruled Carter Had a “Self-Created Duty” to Stop Roy’s Suicide
In 2017, Carter, then 20, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to serve 15 months behind bars. “Carter’s actions and also her failure to act where she had a self-created duty to Mr. Roy, since she had put him in that toxic environment, constituted each and all wanton and reckless conduct,” the judge said, according to People. “She [instructed] Mr. Roy to get back into the truck, well-knowing of all of the feelings that he [had] exchanged with her: his ambiguities, his fears, his concerns. She did nothing. She did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family. Finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction [to Roy]: ‘Get out of the truck.’”
Carter was driven away by her attorney Joseph Cataldo. She was released roughly 3 months early for good behavior. The Bristol County Sheriff called her “a model inmate.”— Caroline Connolly (@CConnNBCBoston) January 23, 2020
📸: @pictureboston pic.twitter.com/6IDgnIbPN5
Carter Served Less Than a Year in Prison for Her Role in Roy’s Death
In January 2020, Carter was released from the Bristol County Women’s Center in North Dartmouth four months early for good behavior. “Ms. Carter has been a model inmate in Bristol County,” Jonathan Darling, a spokesperson for the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, told Buzzfeed News. “She has attended programs, had a job inside the jail, has been polite to our staff and volunteers, has gotten along with other inmates, and we’ve had no discipline issues with her whatsoever.” Since her release, Carter has kept a low profile and she remains on probation until next year.
Roy’s Family Vowed to Help Others Struggling with Issues Related to Suicide
Roy’s family said in a January 2020 statement they were “disappointed” Carter didn’t have to serve her full sentence, but they then put the focus back on their son: “It doesn’t change that Conrad is forever gone. We will continue to remember him and honor him. We will also continue [to] raise awareness for suicide prevention in the hopes that no other family has to face this kind of pain.”
For more on this tragic case, stream the documentary Michelle Carter: Love, Texts & Death now on discovery+.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts/ideation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) 1-800-273-8255 or visit http://afsp.org for resources.