Crime | August 27, 2017 5:00 am

Does the Michelle Carter Case Prove That Words Can Kill?

Woman recently sentenced to 15 months for encouraging boyfriend's suicide.

Michelle Carter
Michelle Carter and her attorney Joseph Cataldo stand to hear Judge Lawrence Moniz announce his verdict on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Bristol Juvenile Court in Taunton, Mass. Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the suicide of Conrad Roy III. (Glenn Silva/Fairhaven Neighborhood News, Pool)

On August 3, Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison when she was found guilty of homicide for a series of calls and texts deemed to have fueled her boyfriend’s suicide.

A new profile in Esquire looks into Carter’s life, as well as the downward spiral of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. Carter came from a small suburb of Massachusetts called Plainville. People who knew her before Roy’s death said her defining characteristic was “cheery relentlessness,” but she kept to herself outside of school.

Carter and Roy met when Carter was 15, down in Naples, Florida, while they were both visiting family members. They started opening up to each other, Roy about his suicide attempts, Carter about her eating disorder.

Roy had a tense relationship with his father. In the winter of 2014, he was suspended from school when he was accused of fighting. The couple once texted about being Romeo and Juliet, but Carter wrote back:

“WE ARE NOT DYING. That’s not funny. I thought you were trying to be romantic.”

But then, she started to text him tips about suicide, like how a gunshot to the head had a 99 percent chance of working, while hanging had an 89 percent chance.

“You better not be bullsh-tting me and saying you’re gonna do this and then purposely get caught,” Michelle said texted him, according to Variety. 

On July 12, Roy pulled his truck into the lot behind Kmart. Phone records show that he spoke to Carter on the phone twice. He was later found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

A few months after her boyfriend’s death, Carter was approached by detectives who had reviewed Roy’s phone records and saw that she had talked to him the night of his death. After she turned over her phone and laptop, the text messages recovered by the state filled 317 pages — even though the couple saw each other no more than five times.

The texts include several from the day he killed himself. Roy texted Carter that he promised he was going to do it today, and Carter responded: “You can’t break a promise. Go in a quiet parking lot.”

The prosecutors describe Carter as a “lonely, calculating girl who killed an ambivalent boy to win the attention of her peers.” Assistant district attorney Katie Rayburn says that Roy’s phone was recovered from his car, out of battery. That means he likely died during the second call to Carter.

Roy had been dead for 12 hours when Carter texted him “Did you do something??! Conrad I love you so much please tell me this is a joke. I’m so sorry I didn’t think you were being serious. I need you please answer me. I’m gonna get you help and you’re gonna get better we will make it thru this.”

But two days later Carter messaged her friend a different version of the story: “I was talking to him while he killed himself, I heard him cry in pain. I should of known I should of did something.”

The detective on the case, David Carter, wrote submitted a note to the court about Carter’s mental health. “I am convinced the medication she was taking affected her mental state which made it difficult for her to distinguish between right and wrong,” he wrote.

In total Carter called Roy’s number 28 times after he died at 7:58 pm, according to the Esquire profile.

“No matter how hard I tried, I could not fit these calls into any premeditated plan,” journalist Jesse Barron writes. “They seemed desperate. They seemed frantic and last-ditch, like the lunge after a vessel that has come unmoored.”