The "Texting Suicide Case" of Conrad Roy III

The "Texting Suicide Case" of Conrad Roy III

On July 12, 2014, Conrad Roy III, 18, killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning by shutting himself in the cab of his pickup truck in a Kmart parking lot with a running gasoline-powered water pump.​

On Feb. 6, 2015, Roy's 17-year-old girlfriend Michelle Carter, who was being treated in a mental facility at the time of his death, was charged with involuntary manslaughter for encouraging him to go through with his suicide plan via a number of text messages and phone calls, including one call while he was dying.

Here are the latest developments in the Conrad Roy III case.

Judge Upholds Manslaughter Charges in Encouraged Suicide Case

Sept. 23, 2015: A juvenile court judge has denied a motion to drop criminal charges against a Massachusetts teenager who encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide. Michelle Carter will face involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of Conrad Roy III.

Judge Bettina Borders pointed to evidence that shows Carter was on the phone with Roy for 45 minutes while he was in his vehicle inhaling the carbon monoxide that would kill him and failed to call the police.

Judge Borders also cited text messages that reveal that Carter, 17 at the time, told Roy to get back in the truck when his suicide plan began to work and he became afraid.

"The Grand Jury could find probable cause that her failure to act within the 45 minutes, as well as her instruction to the victim to get back into the truck after he got out of the truck, caused the victim's death," the judge said in her ruling to deny the defense motion to dismiss the charges.

The defense plans to appeal Borders' ruling. The next pretrial hearing is scheduled November 30.

Michelle Carter's Attorney Wants Charges Dropped

Aug. 28, 2015 - The attorney for an 18-year Massachusetts teen accused of encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide has asked a judge to dismiss the charges against her because prosecutors are "trying to apply manslaughter to speech."

Joseph Cataldo, attorney for Michelle Carter, said his client is not responsible for the death of Conrad Roy III.

"It was his plan," Cataldo told the judge. "He is someone who caused his own death. Michelle Carter's only role in this is words."

Carter, who was being treated at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility, at the time of Roy's death, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in New Bedford Juvenile Court.

Online Relationship

Roy, from Mattapoisett, and Carter, from Plainville, had seen each other only a couple of times in-person, they were mostly online friends, exchanging thousands of text messages over the past two years.

Cataldo said that Carter, now 18, at first tried to discourage Roy from killing himself, but when that did not work, she became "brainwashed" over the weeks leading up to his death to assisting him with his suicide plans.

Roy had been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility two years before his death and was on medication for his mental condition, Cataldo said. Roy left suicide notes at his home for his family on the day he died.

Romeo and Juliet Pact Rejected

Cataldo told the court that just days before he killed himself, Roy sent Carter a text suggesting that they should kill themselves together "like Romeo and Juliet."

Carter responded to the text with, "(Expletive), no we are not dying."

Carter tried to help Roy by suggesting that he join her at McLean Hospital, but he rejected the idea, Cataldo said.

"The government is harping, if you will, on her saying 'when are you going to do it? When are you going to do it?'" Joseph Cataldo, Carter's attorney said. "What they are not harping on are all the times she said 'don't do it, don't do it.'"

Words Are Harmful

But, at the court hearing on the defense motion to dismiss the charges, Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn told the court that it is possible to commit a crime with words only.

"One can be an aider and abettor or an accessory before the fact simply for words," Rayburn told the judge. "Her words are not protected, Your Honor. Her words are harmful, offensive and likely to cause an immediate, violent act."

The indictment against Carter included text messages she sent other friends after Roy's death in which she appears to admit being responsible for his death.

'It's My Fault'

"It's my fault. I was talking to him while he killed himself. I heard him cry in pain," Carter texted a friend. "I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I told him to get back in."

In a later text, she explained why she told him to get back into the vehicle.

"I told him to get back in because I knew he would do it all over again the next day, and I couldn't have him live that way -- the way he was living anymore. I couldn't do it. I wouldn't let him," Carter said.

"Therapy didn't help him and I wanted him to go to McLeans with me when I went but he would go in the other department for his issues, but he didn't want to go because he said nothing they would do or say would help him or change the way he feels. So I like, started giving up because nothing I did was helping -- and but I should have tried harder," she continued.

"Like, I should have did (sic) more. It's all my fault because I could have stopped him but I (expletive) didn't. All I had to say was I love you and don't do this one more time, and he'd still be here," Carter said.

'You Just Fall Asleep'

On Aug. 28, prosecutors released to the media other texts that Carter sent directly to Roy during the time leading up to his death. They included:

  • "There is no way you can fail… You're strong… I love you to the moon and back and deeper than the ocean and higher than the pines, too, babe forever and always. It's painless and quick"
  • "Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on."
  • "Do you have the generator? WELL WHEN ARE YOU GETTING IT?"
  • "You just need to do it, Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you. You're ready and prepared."
  • "All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting."
  • "You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It's now or never."
  • "Yeah, it will work. If you emit 3200 ppm of it for five or ten minutes you die within a half hour. You lose consciousness with no pain. You just fall asleep and die."

Conviction and Sentencing

Carter was freed on $2,500 bond and was ordered by the judge not to use social media. Even in youthful offender court, in Massachusetts, she was looking at the possibility of being sentenced to 20 years if convicted. However, in August 2017 she was sentenced to 15 months in prison, with the sentencing judge ultimately convicting her of involuntary manslaughter due in part to the complexities of criminal responsibility in the case.


"Woman sentenced to 15 months in texting suicide case", August 3, 2017