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‘It’s now or never’: Texts reveal teen’s efforts to pressure boyfriend into suicide

Michelle Carter listens to defense attorney Joseph P. Cataldo argue for the involuntary manslaughter charge against her to be dismissed, citing five separate arguments at Juvenile Court in New Bedford, Mass., on Aug. 24. (Peter Pereira/The New Bedford Standard Times via AP)

Michelle Carter knew that if anyone found her text messages to her boyfriend Conrad Roy III, she might go to jail.

“[If the police] read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail,” Carter texted a friend after her 18-year-old boyfriend used a gas-powered water pump to commit suicide in the parking lot of a K-Mart.

Carter had asked Roy in a text message to delete her messages before he carried out the suicide last summer, but investigators found them anyway.

According to prosecutors, Carter pressured her boyfriend to go through with suicide for almost a week before he carried out the act. She counseled him to overcome his fears; researched methods of committing suicide painlessly; and lied to police, his family and her friends about his whereabouts during the act itself and after, prosecutors said.

Carter, who was 17 at the time of Roy’s death, now faces manslaughter charges in juvenile court in Massachusetts.

Her attorney argues, however, that the charges should be dropped because Carter’s messages are protected by free speech. According to attorney Joseph P. Cataldo, Carter was “brainwashed” into supporting Roy’s plan for suicide.

“He ultimately persuaded a young, impressionable girl,” Caldato told reporters, according to South Coast Today. “Eventually he gets her to endorse his plan.”

[‘Get back in’: Teen charged with pressuring boyfriend to commit suicide]

But in an indictment, prosecutors outlined in nauseating detail the extent of Carter’s alleged role in helping Roy overcome his doubts about suicide.

For more than a week in July 2014, Carter and Roy exchanged hundreds of messages in which Carter insisted that Roy would be better off dead.

“You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain,” she told him in one message. “It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”

According to prosecutors, the two had struck up a romantic relationship — mostly online — in 2012. Her lawyer says they had only met a few times in person over the course of two years prior to Roy’s death.

Roy had a history of depression and had attempted suicide in the past, but his family was hopeful that he would get through it.

“He seemed to be pulling out of it,” his grandmother Janice Roy told WBZ. 

[How to talk to your teen about depression, suicide]

Text messages recovered by police, however, suggest that by 2014, Carter had gotten tired of Roy’s idle talk of suicide and she wanted him to go through with it  — now.

“You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do,” Carter complained. “I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing.”

Another time, she texted: “You can’t keep pushing it off, though. That’s all you keep doing.”

[‘I needed to do this’: A school shooter’s final texts before gunning down his friends]

Carter was insistent, even when Roy steered the topic to other things:

ROY: How was your day?
CARTER: When are you doing it?

Roy said he was having a good day, but Carter wasn’t satisfied.

CARTER: Really?
ROY: Yes.
CARTER: That’s great. What did you do?
ROY: Ended up going to work for a little bit and then just looked stuff up.
CARTER: When are you gonna do it? Stop ignoring the question???

Roy had doubts, and he was scared, according to his texts. What if it didn’t work and he ended up injured for the rest of his life? How would his family cope with the loss?

Carter had answers.

He would be her guardian angel in heaven.

She would comfort his family and they would move on.

If he followed the directions he had found online for killing himself with carbon monoxide, it would “100 percent work,” she said.

“There isn’t anything anyone can do to save you, not even yourself,” she told him.

But committing suicide would require tools. Roy thought about using a tube to channel the exhaust from his truck’s tailpipe into the vehicle but realized that the diesel engine emitted lower levels of carbon monoxide that might make failure more likely.

Carter was confident that it would work and told him why.

If the truck emitted a specific amount of carbon monoxide “for five or ten minutes, you will die,” she told him. “You lose consciousness with no pain. You just fall asleep and die.”

But Carter didn’t love that idea, either, because she feared that Roy would make up an “excuse” to explain why it didn’t work.

“I bet you’re gonna be like ‘oh, it didn’t work because I didn’t tape the tube right or something like that,'” she texted him “You always seem to have an excuse.”

When Roy decided to use a generator instead, Carter was impatient.

“Do you have the generator?” she asked him.

“Not yet LOL,” he replied.


Eventually, Roy did find a generator — his father’s — but it was broken. Carter told him to take it to Sears for repairs.

And if Roy couldn’t find a way to use carbon monoxide, Carter suggested alternatives: “I’d try the bag or hanging,” she told him. “Hanging is painless and take like a second if you do it right.”

The day of Roy’s death — July 12, 2014 — he and Carter exchanged texts in the early morning hours.

“You can’t think about it. You just have to do it,” Carter said, telling him she didn’t understand why he was hesitating.

“I’m gonna eventually,” he replied. “I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.”

She suggested that he take medication to fall asleep and allow the fumes to work.

She worried that he wouldn’t go through with it because the sun would soon be coming up.

She suggested that he go to an empty parking lot.

They texted throughout the day about the plans, about Roy’s doubts, and about Carter’s insistence that “the time is right” and that he was ready.

[Trying to quantify teen suicide]

At the same time, Carter appeared to be preparing her friends and Roy’s relatives for his eventual death. Days before his suicide, Carter texted a friend named Samantha and claimed that Roy was missing — though she was communicating with him at exactly the same time about how to fix his father’s broken generator.

The day before his death, she told her friend: “I’m thankful that our last words were I love you.”

At some point on the night of July 12, Roy went through with the suicide, using a gas-powered water pump. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the cab of his pickup truck.

While he was in the truck with the pump running, he was on the phone texting and talking with Carter, she told her friend.

“Like, honestly I could have stopped it,” Carter texted Samantha months later. “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car” because the carbon monoxide was working, she said. She added that she “told him to get back in.”

Roy’s body was found by police on the morning of July 13.

A judge will now decide whether Carter will face charges in his death. She will appear in court again on Oct. 2.

After his death, Carter became a self-proclaimed advocate for mental health.

She organized a fundraising tournament in Roy’s memory and posted on Facebook and Twitter about her attempts to save her boyfriend’s life.

“Even though I could not save my boyfriend’s life, I want to put myself out here to try to save as many other lives as possible,” she wrote on Facebook.

If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone is available to talk 24/7