Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

'It's now or never': A teen's deadly texts

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," Carter texted a friend after her 18-year-old boyfriend committed suicide in the parking lot of a Kmart in Massachusetts.

Carter had asked Roy in a text message to delete her messages before he died last summer, but investigators found them anyway. According to prosecutors, Carter had pressured her boyfriend to go through with suicide. She counseled him to overcome his fears, and researched methods of committing suicide painlessly.

In an indictment last week, prosecutors outlined in wrenching 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. Roy had a history of depression and had attempted suicide in the past.

"You're finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain," she told him in one message. "Tonight is the night,'' she wrote in another. "It's now or never.''

Carter, who was 17 when Roy died, now faces a manslaughter charge in juvenile court in New Bedford.

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.

The text messages 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.

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. 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. "If you emit 3200 ppm of it for five or ten minutes, you will die within a half hour," she told him. "You lose consciousness with no pain."

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.

Roy decided to use a generator — his father's — but it was broken. Carter told him to take it to Sears for repairs.

The day of Roy's death — July 12, 2014 — he and Carter exchanged texts in the morning. "You can't think about it. You just have to do it," Carter said.

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

They texted throughout the day about the plans, about Roy's doubts, and about Carter's insistence that "the time is right." 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 the time about the 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 in 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. "Like, honestly I could have stopped it," Carter texted Samantha months later.

According to Carter's attorney, Joseph P. Cataldo, she was "brainwashed" into supporting Roy's plan for suicide. "He ultimately persuaded a young, impressionable girl," Caldato told reporters.

After Roy's death, Carter became a self-proclaimed advocate for mental health. She organized a fundraising tournament in his memory and posted on Facebook and Twitter about her boyfriend's death. "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.

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