As a 17-year-old, Michelle Carter would often complain that she was alone and friendless, and that no one ever called her or asked her to hang out. She depicted herself as a social outcast, a troubled teen with an eating disorder, who was never invited to parties and stayed at home crying on Friday nights, according to numerous and often lengthy texts she sent to some of her high school classmates.
But Carter did have a boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy, who made her feel “like the luckiest girl in the world,” according to a text she sent a friend.
When Roy killed himself in his truck in 2014 by inhaling carbon monoxide produced by a water pump, Carter texted multiple friends that she was on the phone with him when he died, that she heard his screams, and that it was her fault because she “fucking told him” to get back in his truck when he said he was scared, according to testimony from her friends on the third day of her trial at the Taunton District Court in Massachusetts.
Prosecutors say Carter pressured Roy — through text messages — to kill himself and then used his suicide to gain the attention and sympathy from her peers that she always craved.
Carter, now 20, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries up to 20 years in state prison if she's found guilty by a judge. Her lawyers argue that Roy's suicide was his own choice and that Carter was neither present when he killed himself, nor did she inflict physical harm on him.
On Wednesday, prosecutors used the text messages Carter sent to her friends before, during, and after Roy’s death to say she placed herself at the center of his suicide and blamed herself for not stopping him. Several of her friends were called to the witness stand to read the messages out loud.
This article drew from court records and a livestream from the courthouse.
In one message after Roy's death, Carter told her high school friend Samantha Boardman that she "fucking told" Roy to get back in his truck when he got scared about what he was about to do.
Sam, his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him. I was on the phone with him and he got out of the [truck] because it was working and he got scared and I fucking told him to get back in Sam because I knew he would do it all over again the next day and I couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t let him.
Boardman testified on Wednesday that Carter would persistently text her "lengthy" messages where she complained about not having any friends.
“No one asks to hang out with me,” Carter told Boardman in a page-long text message before Roy's death in 2014.
Here are some excerpts of that message:
Yeah I have school friends that all say they love me but that doesn't mean shit when no one ever asks to hang out with me. No one ever calls me or texts me it's always me that has to do it. So when someone actually makes an effort to talk to me and hangout and stuff it makes me so happy and I actually feel important like I'm worth something.
I don't even remember the last time someone asked to hangout with me before you did. But idk what I was thinking I knew I was just gonna make it all come crashing down like I always do.
I push people away I text them too much or try talking to them too much and they leave. Every single one and then I'm left crying in bed at night because I have no one, no friends, barely a family like they don't even like me half the time and no plans for the future. I'm nothing and I just have no idea what I'm doing.
When another friend tried to comfort her and tell her she was beautiful, Carter replied: “Beautiful girls get invited to parties. They don’t spend Friday nights alone at home waiting to cry.”
Her friends testified that she texted them about her eating disorder and told them that she was cutting herself. One friend, however, told the court that she never observed any self-harm wounds on Carter.
Two days before Roy killed himself — and while he was still in touch with Carter over text messages — she pretended that he had gone missing and expressed her apparent concern for him to several of her friends.
“Conrad’s missing. They can’t find him anywhere,” she texted one friend. “I’m losing all hope that he’s even alive.”
She also asked Boardman if there was any way “a portable generator can kill you somehow” because Roy had told her he was getting one from a store.
“I really didn’t really think anything of it, but he didn't go to work today so idk why he would of got that stuff,” she texted Boardman.
However, text messages between Roy and Carter showed that she was already aware of his plan to use a generator to kill himself. She even chastised him when he told her he hadn’t bought one yet.
Defendant: "You're gonna have to prove me wrong because I just don't think you really want this. You just keeps pushing it off to another night and say you'll do it but you never do"
Defendant: "SEE THATS WHAT I MEAN. YOU KEEP PUSHING IT OFF! You just said you were gonna do it tonight and now you're saying eventually...
Defendant: "But I bet you're gonna be like 'oh, it didn't work because I didn't tape the tube right or something like that' ... I bet you're gonna say an excuse like that"
Defendant: "Do you have the generator?"
Victim: "not yet lol"
Defendant: "WELL WHEN ARE YOU GETTING IT"
On the day that she lied to her friends about Roy missing, she also texted Roy, writing: “Well in my opinion, I think u should do the generator because I don't know much about the pump and with a generator u can't fail.”
She continued to deceive Boardman about Roy's whereabouts a day before he killed himself, writing, "I was supposed to save him he needed me. I let him down, I should of knew what he was saying was suspicious and I should of called his mom or someone. I could of prevented this."
She added, "Just incase something did happen, I'm thankful that our last words were I love you."
The night Roy killed himself, Carter sent multiple messages to her friends, saying that he was dead and that he had “committed suicide.”
Soon after his death, Carter texted several of her friends that she was on the phone with Roy for 20 minutes as he died and that she heard sounds of a “motor running” and “moaning.”
In a message to Boardman, Carter pretended that she did not know he was going to use a generator to kill himself.
"I'm so fucking stupid," she told Boardman after informing her of Roy's death. "The generator he got the other day, I think that was the noise I heard...I think he poisoned himself with it and its all my fault because I should of knew he was gonna do that and I should of stopped him."
Evidence shows Carter and Roy exchanged several text messages and had two phone calls the night he died.
“He told me exactly what his plan was,” Carter told another friend. “And he told me he loved me. And then he just stopped talking.”
“Yeah and I was on the phone talking to him when he killed himself. I heard him dying," she texted another friend.
“I was talking to him on the phone when he killed himself. Liv, I heard him die. I just wish I got him more help,” she texted yet another.
Two days after the suicide, Carter texted Boardman, “I do blame myself, it's my fault. I was talking to him while he killed himself. I heard him cry in pain. I should of known I should of done something.”
Later she told Boardman, “I helped ease him into it and told him it was okay, I was talking to him on the phone when he did it I coud have easily stopped him or called the police but I didn't.”
She also expressed her fear about the police reading her messages. In a text to Boardman, she wrote, “Sam, [the police] read my messages with him I'm done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail.”
In the days following Roy’s death, Carter texted her friends about how Roy had left her a “beautiful” suicide letter that his mother read out to her.
“I’m going to Conrad’s house to go through some of this things with his mom and to get a suicide letter he wrote to me,” she texted a friend, stressing that she was the “only one” he had left a note for.
“It just means so much to me that I was that special to him. His mom said I was the most important person in his life,” she told her friend.
She told another friend that Roy’s mother was keeping the letter “for me” and that his mother had asked her to come over to their house to take some of his things.
Roy’s mother testified that she did not ask Carter to come to their house and that she had given his letter to authorities.
Carter also told friends that she hoped to get some of Roy’s ashes after his cremation.
“He was cremated so it will be easier so we don't have to bury him,” she texted Boardman. “I may be getting some of his ashes which is nice.”
Carter also expressed feeling “overwhelmed” when Roy’s mother talked to her about her “new boyfriend and stuff.”
She told her friends that she had promised Roy she would “help his mom and sisters get through this” and that she wouldn’t “let them go through depression.”
“But now [his mom] is depressed. I failed [Conrad],” she wrote in a text.
She also told friends that Roy had refused to go with her to seek professional help together.
“I started giving up because nothing I did seemed to help him,” Carter wrote to her friend. “I could've have stopped him but I fucking didn’t.”
She texted Boardman that she had her “whole life” planned out with Roy.
“He was going to graduate Fitchburg and then when I graduated the college I'm going to, we would live happily ever after on the ocean somewhere, with our son Conrad the 4th....Now it's gonna be something different, maybe something better, But I just don't think that's possible. He was my person.”
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.