I love you michelle

The pivot is key. In the genre of true-crime documentary that Netflix has dominated since Making a Murderer, the moment when the case dissolves from monochrome certainty – he did it! She did it! There is no way they didn’t do it! – into a grey tide of doubts that gradually recede to reveal the jagged rocks of deeper truth is what makes the form so watchable.

You may feel that Netflix’s high-water mark, last year’s The Innocent Man, can’t be topped. It began with video footage of seemingly incontestable confessions by the two supposed perpetrators, plus detailed explanations from investigators of the crimes involved, before executing a remorseless deconstruction and debunking every moment that had gone before.

But there appears to be a challenger to Netflix’s hegemony. A new channel, Sky Crime, has launched with I Love You, Now Die, a two-part HBO film that tells the extraordinary true story of two teenagers from Massachusetts, Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy. They met in 2012, and only a handful of times after that, but built a relationship via thousands of text messages over the next two years before Roy, who had depression during that time, took his own life on 12 July 2014. In the hours, days, weeks and months leading up to his suicide, he received a slew of messages from Carter, later found on his phone by police, offering advice on methodology, timing and general encouragement. “Are you gonna do it now?” “There’s a lot of ways.” “You keeping over thinking it … You just have to do it like you said.” She was indicted for involuntary manslaughter.

It is an unhurried film. It gives time to Roy’s parents and extended family. It gives time to Roy, too, using footage he recorded of himself talking about his depression and feeling as if he were “wired wrong”. It gives us time to sit with the horror and feel the depth of grief.

And then comes the pivot towards Carter and her story. What seems like a simple – horrific, but simple – case of psychopathy is rapidly complicated as the lens pulls back to take in the rest of the story. It restores context to the texts, which were shorn of it by the “black widow” media narrative that sprang up, and by the tight timeframe upon which the prosecutors focused at trial. We see, across the years and the thousands of messages, how desperately lonely and mentally fragile Carter was (she had been on antidepressants from a young age); how she tried for so long to support the young man she saw, or wanted to see (with little encouragement and often outright unkindness from him), as her boyfriend. We see how her inability to solve the problems of an 18-year-old who had already tried to take his own life four times melded with her desire to stay important to him, and led her to become the cheerleader for his most self-destructive impulses. In the end, argued the defence psychiatrist in court, she thought she was helping him.

Along with the moral (and psychological and philosophical) issues raised by Carter’s behaviour that the film bears out – aided greatly by the eloquence and thoughtfulness of the journalist Jesse Barron, who covered the case – I Love You, Now Die also illuminates the more immediate side of the Carter trial. Somewhere in the storm of emotion was the legal matter of whether Carter, whatever ethical responsibility she bore, could or should be charged with manslaughter. In Massachusetts, encouraging a suicide is not a crime. How, then, could her words justify a manslaughter conviction?

The judge found that they could – and did. So did an appeals court. Carter is halfway through the 15-month sentence that was handed down. She was denied parole last month.

I Love You, Now Die is a superbly perceptive study of the endless convolutions and complexities of the human mind – and the proliferation of both when two people in a desperately unhappy state meet. It succeeds in raising questions – gently, but relentlessly – about our prejudices and our readiness to judge, as individuals and through our institutions, from the media to the courts. Without losing sight of anyone’s misery or loss, it forces nuance – a characteristic increasingly absent from discourse – into the discussion, for which we can only be grateful. If it carries on in this vein, Sky Crime will be a force to be reckoned with.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by emailing [email protected] or [email protected] In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the case of Michelle Carter. Carter was accused at age 17 and tried for the involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, by allegedly convincing himself to commit suicide via her text messages. To most people, the case seems fairly clear cut on its surface. A “normal” human being sees a person who is threatening suicide and intervenes to prevent harm. Michelle, on the other hand, supported and encouraged Conrad’s desire to commit suicide. Therefore, Michelle must be a monster. But when you watch Erin Lee Carr‘s documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter, you come away with a more complex and more heartbreaking picture that offers no easy answers. I haven’t been able to shake it.

In 2014, Conrad Roy committed suicide via acute carbon monoxide poisoning by rigging a generator to his car with a length of hose. However, Roy’s death took on an even darker connotation when detectives unearthed 60,000 text messages between Roy and his girlfriend Michelle Carter. Roy and Carter only met about five times and lived in different towns, but had an intense romantic relationship via text message. Carr divides her story into “The Prosecution” and “The Defense”, and The Prosecution paints a damning picture of Carter as a sadistic and lonely young woman who wanted her boyfriend to die because it would bring her attention. However, as the documentary unfolds, it’s clear that there was far more going on between Roy and Carter than just a young woman constantly prodding her boyfriend to commit suicide.

Image via HBO

Conrad Roy III is dead and he shouldn’t be. He was young with his whole life ahead of him and a family that loved him. The texts with Carter offer an avenue of blame. If we blame Carter and can point to text messages where she encouraged Conrad to commit suicide, then she is to blame and justice can be served. Now there’s a narrative, and it’s one our society clings too far too often and too quickly: it was the evil woman who used her powers of seduction and coercion to get an innocent young man to kill himself. If you’re not careful, she or women like her will get you to kill yourself via text message as well.

But when you start spending time with the case and talking to people who have looked through not just the text messages but spoken to Carter’s associates and examined her social media presence, a more nuanced and difficult portrait emerges. When you look the case holistically, you can only see layers upon layers of tragedy. The immediate tragedy is that these two mentally ill teenagers found each other and fed each other’s worse impulses. Roy needed an audience for his suicidal tendencies. Carter needed the love and adoration that felt in tune with the popular media she consumed like The Fault in Our Stars and Glee.

Image via HBO

When you start pulling back you see a system of failures. Both Roy and Carter were on anti-depressant medication, but where are their psychiatrists in all of this? Roy’s parents say they just assumed Carter was a regular girlfriend (Carter and her parents declined to be interviewed for the documentary), but if he’s a minor, why is Carter responsible but not them? Or why aren’t Carter’s parents responsible for their daughter? The burden appears to lie with Carter because her actions were apparently malignant rather than simply negligent, but this in turn reveals even greater failings on the part of our society.

As the documentary wisely points out, we have a long tradition of blaming women, especially when it comes to the mental illnesses of others. They are deemed “witches” and the term “bewitched” means “under control.” This perception is a dark and insidious twisting of the already problematic perception that women must always bear the role of nurturer and caretaker, and always reducing them to wife and mother. To fail in this role is “criminal” and so if a man is a victim of his emotions, it’s because the emotional caretaker, a woman, did not live up to her “duty.”

Image via HBO

Now you can say that’s nonsense, and that any decent person would have worked to prevent someone they loved from inflicting self-harm. But did you know that Roy specifically told Carter not to tell his parents or the authorities about his suicidal tendencies? What then? Put yourself in Carter’s shoes: you’re an insecure teenage girl who frequently feels like she’s not included in any friend group. Here’s a guy who pays attention to you and says he loves you, but his love is conditional on you supporting his suicidal ideation. The entire case rests on seeing Michelle Carter as a well-adjusted young woman, but the evidence doesn’t support that, and even if she was, the mental wellbeing and safety of her boyfriend is an enormous burden to put on a 17-year-old.

I will note, however, that tragedy does not absolve guilt. Any crime of passion could be filed under the label of “tragedy.” If a mentally ill person stabs you with a knife, the mentally ill person still has to go into an institution of some sort. The problem with this analogy is that it removes all agency from Roy, whose behavior comes perilously close to the abusive boyfriend who warns, “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.” The Commonwealth’s case rests on the belief that because Carter had text messages spurring Roy on, he would be alive if not for her. There was a time when he got out of his car and said he was scared to continue, but she reportedly told him to get back in even though there are no text messages to support this other than a self-flagellation text from Carter to a friend several weeks later. As the defense’s psychiatrist points out, if Carter is deemed an unreliable narrator of her own story, why do we choose to believe her in some moments and not others? And the answer seems to be, “Because we need to blame somebody.”

Image via HBO

The death of Conrad Roy III is undoubtedly very sad. As a child of divorce who also wrestled with deep depression and even suicidal ideation in high school, I should sympathize with him and his plight. And yet by the end, I couldn’t help but feel for Michelle Carter, whose own diagnoses and age were put second to Roy’s. The question I can’t answer is why a 17-year-old girl should have to be responsible for the mental state of her boyfriend. At the very least, by the end of the documentary, it’s harder to believe that Carter acted with malice and that the simplistic narrative that emerged in the media failed to grasp the nuances of her relationship with Roy.

Tragedy doesn’t necessarily abdicate responsibility or guilt, but in the case of Conrad Roy’s suicide, there seems to be plenty of responsibility and guilt to go around, but it was laid entirely at the feet of Michelle Carter. Although there are some directorial decisions I disagree with (setting the opening credits in a sea of fumes seems particularly in bad taste), I think Carr found a far more captivating and difficult story than the headlines would have led us to believe. I Love You, Now Die shows the comfort of having a villain, but the reality of Carter and Roy’s story shows only victims.

Rating: A-

On the hunt for a new gritty thriller TV show? Are you desperate for a mind-blowing new documentary that shines a light on a fascinating true story? Sounds like I Love You, Now Die is the right show for you.

Perhaps even stranger than previous documentaries we have seen, I Love You, Now Die tells a true horror tale of how manipulation, love, and social media can lead to suicide.

The two-part documentary follows the death of Conrad Roy, a teenager who ended his own life following a tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Michelle Carter.

We have seen TV series that show wrongful convictions, mysterious murders and drug-fuelled crime, but never have we seen a story like this.

This new HBO show is truly remarkable and unique, as we follow the twisting story of a series of texts from Michelle, encouraging her boyfriend to end his own life and then be released from prison.

Michelle Carter Boston GlobeGetty Images

If this sounds like your next true-crime fix, you’re in luck, as the first episode aired in the UK this weekend (6th October) at 2am on Sky Crime.

The episode will re-air tonight at 9pm so you can catch it if you have a Sky subscription.

If you don’t have a Sky TV package right now, there is a pretty impressive offer on right now that gets you Sky Broadband, Sky TV and then free evening and weekend calls for £39 a month across an 18-month contract.

If you don’t need the broadband and just need the Sky TV access, you can sign up for £42 a month for 18 months (down from £54 a month). Though you should know this offer ends on Thursday.

If you don’t want the hassle of signing up to a Sky TV package, you can just sign up to NOW TV Entertainment Pass right now, enjoying a 7-day free trial if you use a new email address.

Once those 7 days are up though, you can enjoy 11 channels and hundreds of great TV shows and boxsets for £7.99 a month.

I Love You, Now Die is a fascinating look at morality, technology, and mental health, and is sure to have you hooked.

Sign up to NOW TV

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Owen Gough Owen Gough is Technology E-Commerce Editor at Hearst UK, specialising in tech deals, phone upgrades and Fortnite skins.

Michelle Carter, the Massachusetts woman who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself, is fighting her conviction in the state’s Supreme Court. Oral arguments are taking place on Thursday. Watch live, with in-studio analysis on the Law&Crime Network in the player above.

Carter was sentenced to two and a half years behind bars after her 2017 trial for the death of Conrad Roy III. Roy killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning in a car. He had texted Carter that he wasn’t going to go through with it, but she responded by encouraging to keep going. During her trial, prosecutors provided text messages between the two of them to show Carter’s role in Roy’s suicide.

Carter was 17 at the time of Roy’s death, and the judge sentenced her to two and a half years in a house of corrections. The judge said 15 months were to be considered a committed sentence, with the rest to be suspended until August 1, 2022, as well as probation. The sentence was put on hold pending Carter’s appeal, which is now before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Michelle Carter, of texting suicide case, released from jail early


A woman convicted of manslaughter for urging her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself in 2014 was released from jail Thursday morning.

The release of Michelle Carter comes after she served most of a 15-month sentence at the Bristol County jail in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.


In a bench trial, a judge determined Carter caused the death of the 18-year-old Conrad Roy when she ordered him in a phone call to get back into his parked truck, which he’d rigged to fill up with deadly carbon monoxide. Carter was 17 at the time of Roy’s death.

The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in. In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged him to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t.

Carter began serving her sentence after the state’s highest court upheld the conviction last February. Her request for parole in September was denied.

The 23-year-old Plainville native was escorted out of the jail around 9:25 a.m., more than three months early after jail officials say she accrued enough credits for good behavior and attending jail programs. She will now serve five years of probation.

Carter, wearing a white blazer and dark slacks, was spotted being driven out of the facility by her parents.

“The staff that were working with Michelle Carter on a daily basis reported that she was a model inmate,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said.

Rebecca Maki, Roy’s aunt and family spokeswoman, said while it brings some closure to the family, they are disappointed that Carter was released early.

“With the Supreme Court last week declining to hear the appeal and Michelle being released this week it does bring a sense of closure knowing that we aren’t going to have to go through any other appeals,” she said. “We are disappointed Michelle is being released early and not fulfilling her complete prison sentence but we understand that is the normal process for someone with good behavior. With that said, we don’t consider her a ‘good girl’”


Hodgson said that he understands the Roy family’s frustration.

“I really feel for the Roy family and what they must be going through, and in the end, I suppose my answer would be that we don’t dictate what the sentences are going to be or the punishment,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear Carter’s appeal.

Her case garnered national attention, including an HBO special, as it raised thorny legal questions about free speech and provided a disturbing look at teenage relationships and depression. It also sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.

Meanwhile, a similar case involving a Boston College student is playing out in Boston court.

Prosecutors say student Inyoung You drove her boyfriend Alexander Urtula to kill himself in a toxic relationship that included thousands of abusive text messages. You, 21, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

I Love You, Now Die focuses on the case of Michelle Carter (Picture: Sky/HBO)

True crime aficionados – your time is now thanks to Sky’s new channel, Sky Crime.

A whole channel dedicated to that old notion that true life really is stranger than fiction, looking at crimes that have bewitched, bothered and bewildered people the world over.

One of its first juicy shows to delve into – sure to be a talking point on social media and beyond – is I Love You, Now Die.

Here’s when you can watch the two-part documentary and what to expect.

What is I Love You, Now Die about?

The two-part documentary series follows the case of the death of Conrad Roy and the involvement of his girlfriend Michelle Carter.

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People thought they knew the story of the girlfriend who ultimately encouraged her own boyfriend to kill himself and then demanded to be released from jail.

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But, as HBO’s gripping two-part documentary will show, nothing is ever black and white in true crime.

When is I Love You, Now Die out in the UK?

The first episode of the documentary aired in the UK at 2am on Sunday on Sky Crime and is repeated tonight at 9pm.

Michelle Carter was sentenced for the death of Conrad Roy, but is there more to the story? (Picture: Sky/AP)

How to watch I Love You, Now Die in the UK?

The documentary is part of Sky Crime’s exciting new line-up.

If you’re an existing Sky customer, you’ll instantly have access to the show when it airs.

Watch it live from your Sky box or through one of your registered Sky Go devices.

It will also be available to watch on NOW TV.

The texting-suicide story captured imaginations across the world (Picture: SKY)

The documentary originally aired on HBO in the States over summer.

Speaking before the premiere, a spokesperson for HBO said the documentary ‘raises difficult questions about technology, mental health, and whether or not one teenager can be held responsible for the suicide of another. While many believe that Michelle Carter’s texts urging boyfriend Conrad Roy to end this own life are immoral, the film asks: Is it criminal?’

They went on to add that the filmmakers had ‘unprecedented access to the families, friends, and communities that were forever changed by the Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter’ and that the story behind the sensationalised headlines to do with the case will have ‘wider implications for society at large, online and in real life.’

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Sky Crime launched on Sky on 1 October and is also available on NOW TV.

MORE: I Love You, Now Die: The importance of unravelling the untold story you thought you knew

MORE: HBO release trailer for documentary I Love You, Now Die about Michelle Carter texting suicide case

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‘Can Text Messages Kill?’: Inside the Strange Case of Michelle Carter in HBO’s ‘I Love You, Now Die’

In the summer of 2014, a Romeo and Juliet love story for the smartphone era went horribly wrong, and the nation was faced with an unprecedented question: Can text messages kill? The case of Massachusetts teen Conrad Roy’s suicide and his girlfriend Michelle Carter’s subsequent indictment for involuntary manslaughter immediately captured national attention. HBO’s upcoming documentary special I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, directed by Erin Lee Carr, offers a nuanced look at the infamous trial.

Conrad Roy III was 18 years old when he killed himself by carbon monoxide inhalation on July 13, 2014. According to prosecutors, Michelle Carter—widely reported to be Roy’s girlfriend, though they only actually met a handful of times—had bombarded the teenager with texts and calls urging him to follow through on his plans to take his own life. The transcript of texts from that day is shocking. “I thought you wanted to do this,” Carter, then 17 years old, texted Roy. “The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!” She made him promise.

In between “I love you” texts and smiley faces, Carter offered advice on where to go and what time of day would be “less suspicious.” Allegedly, when Roy panicked and got out of his exhaust-filled black pickup truck, Carter told him to get back in. Many publications put this in quotation marks, as if it was another text message; in actuality, the conversation took place during a phone call of which no recording exists. It was Carter who later informed a friend that she told Roy to get back in the truck, but there is no written record. And as I Love You, Now Die illustrates, Carter is not necessarily a reliable source.

“I knew that there was more to the story,” director Erin Lee Carr, daughter of the late, great David Carr, told The Daily Beast, “so watching the media report on it was kind of disturbing, honestly. There was just this narrative that she told him to get back in and she texted him that, and that was completely false.”

In providing such a thorough examination of the details of the case, I Love You, Now Die highlights other areas where news coverage oversimplified the story of Roy and Carter. Though the pair exchanged thousands of text messages (often declarations of love), they did not refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. Conrad’s mother, Lynn Roy, had no idea that Carter was close to her son. Carter’s friends testified that prior to Roy’s death, she always called him her friend, not boyfriend.

Carr also pushed back on the media portrayal of Carter as a beautiful, healthy, popular high school student. “Anybody who spends, like, two seconds with this case understands that she is somebody who suffers and deals with mental illness,” Carr said.

Throughout the film, interviews with local residents capture the sense of vitriol directed at Carter. One woman, wearing sunglasses and leaning out the window of her car, said, “I never met the girl, but I’ve seen pictures of her. She just has that look that I remember.” A photo from Carter’s indictment that accompanied much of the early media coverage of the case flashed on screen. Her lips are pursed, as if in boredom or contempt. “But I see that look,” the woman continued in her deep Massachusetts accent, “and it’s like, ‘You little snot. How could you do that to a human being?’” In moments like this, I Love You, Now Die serves as a powerful commentary on the extent to which media shapes public opinion.

Carr has been working on this project since the news first broke, reaching out to people for interviews in 2015 and 2016, then moving to Massachusetts for Carter’s trial in 2017. The 140-minute film is split up into two parts—prosecution and defense—mirroring the trial. When Carter’s legal team decided that she would have a bench trial, meaning the judge decides the case, Carr was initially disappointed that there would be no jury. She and co-producer Alison Byrne decided that talking to people in town would be the next best thing. “We wanted to gauge what Massachusetts, how they felt about her, because that would show us and inform us what it would have been like to have a jury trial,” Carr explained.

I Love You, Now Die includes interviews with members of the Roy family, Carter’s lawyer, witnesses, journalists who covered the trial, and townspeople. Carter’s family chose not to participate in the film, though Carr held out hope until the end. “While I understand , there was always a part of me that kept asking, kept asking, kept asking,” she said. Still, though she did not utter a word, except to surrender her right to a jury, it never felt like there was an absence of Carter’s voice.

“I think that one of the true selling points or unique points about this film is that you don’t often get 10,000 text messages from a potential subject,” Carr said. “Her voice is so resonant and so much a part of the piece.”

Often the film lets these messages speak for themselves. Text bubbles appear one after another on screen, with the familiar chime of the iPhone notification ring mimicking a real-time conversation. According to Carr, the authenticity of the messages provides value that you can’t necessarily get from an interview, answering the question, “What does she say when she’s not being watched?”

The film is Carr’s third installment in a series of HBO true crime documentaries. I Love You, Now Die’s predecessors, Thought Crimes and Mommy Dead and Dearest, have in common a focus on the way modern communication technology complicates criminal cases. “I think it’s really about how we communicate with others and how we interact with our own loneliness,” Carr said, describing what she believes to be the main takeaway of the film. “I think Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy were incredibly lonely and they confided in each other because they thought others weren’t listening.”

Earlier this week HBO and Carr arranged a private screening of the finished documentary for Roy’s mother, Lynn Roy. Reluctant to speak on Lynn Roy’s behalf, Carr told The Daily Beast that she thinks it was an extremely painful experience for the grieving mother. “That being said,” she explained, “we had a discussion after and she looked me in the eyes and said it was well done… For somebody who’s been through what she’s been through, for her to say that it worked and it was okay was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.”

A new HBO documentary is offering a closer, and perhaps complicating, account of the Michelle Carter texting suicide case.

Directed by Erin Lee Carr, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter,” which debuts in two parts this week, retraces the 2017 trial against Carter and the disturbing texts the then-17-year-old exchanged with her purported boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, who committed suicide in 2014.

Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 months in jail for repeatedly encouraging the 18-year-old Roy in text messages to follow through with his plan to take his own life. On the evening of July 13, 2014, he drove from his home in Mattapoisett to a parking lot in Fairhaven and killed himself in his truck by inhaling carbon monoxide.


The unsettling texts at the center of the trial drew national attention. However, the new, hair-raising documentary digs deeper than the headlines.

Throughout the trial, the documentary team were the only ones filming in the courtroom. In addition to the extensive trial footage, “I Love You, Now Die” centers around the two Massachusetts teens’ texts and features interviews with many of those closest to the case (though Carter and her family denied requests to participate in the film).

It also raises questions about Carter’s conviction.

“There was this very simple story put forth that Michelle Carter was this good-looking ice queen that set about to kill a young man to become popular,” Carr said in a recent interview. ”I knew that that wasn’t going to be correct.”

The first part of “I Love You, Now Die” airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on HBO, followed by part two Wednesday at the same time. It will also be available on HBO’s online streaming platforms. Here are three big takeaways from the film:

1. The tragedy resulted from a “perfect storm” of factors

Roy wasn’t the only one with personal troubles. And while the fact Carter and Roy both suffered from depression wasn’t a particularly new revelation, “I Love You, Now Die” casts an unfiltered light on the extent and origins of their struggles.


Through texts and interviews, the film illustrates Carter’s devastating loneliness. Classmates testified that they frequently rebuffed Carter’s attempts to hang out. Samantha Boardman, one of Carter’s closer friends, said that Carter often complained about always having to reach out to others.

“No one asks to hang out with me,” Carter said in one 2014 text.

Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist hired by the defense, said Carter developed a severe eating disorder and was prescribed anti-depressants that exacerbated her mental health issues. She told friends that she cut herself. According to Breggin, these factors combined to cause Carter to further isolate herself. Carter texted Roy that she once was on the verge of hanging herself — going so far to put a noose around her neck — but “chickened out” at the last minute.

Prosecutors made the case that Carter encouraged Roy to kill himself in a ploy for attention. Texts she sent immediately before and after Roy’s death show Carter using his disappearance to get friends to hang out. She also organized a memorial baseball tournament for Roy — in her hometown of Plainville — that was mostly attended by her own friends and family.

Still, Carter’s lawyers say the attention she received obscures the truth. Texts show that Carter initially sought to get Roy treatment, before eventually relenting and supporting his suicide plan (Massachusetts state law does not criminally prohibit assisted suicide).

“The focus became Michelle, and not Conrad — did he really want to die?” defense attorney Joseph Cataldo says in the film. “And so they shied away from the root causes of why Conrad Roy killed himself.”


Lynn Roy says she began to notice her son having issues around the time of her and his father’s messy — and at times violent — divorce. According to police reports, not only were Roy’s parents violent toward each other, his father, Conrad Roy Jr., repeatedly abused him.

“Told Dad I would put pan of mac & cheese away after commercial of basketball game,” Roy wrote in a statement to police. “He said do it now. He punched me repeatedly and pinned me down. I couldn’t get up. His girlfriend said I was piece of s—.”

“I believe some of his Dad & his family members have blood on their hands,” Lynn Roy texted Carter less than a month after her son’s death.

When asked about the accounts of abuse, Roy Jr. told filmmakers that it was “kind of embarrassing” and “doesn’t really matter.”

“Things got out of control and we both fought each other,” he said. “And I’d do it again just like that.”

Roy had previously attempted suicide four times — once nearly successfully via overdosing on pills. He frequently researched online the most effective suicide methods. According to his mother, Roy’s grades slipped and he described having “racing thoughts” and losing his memory. In a video journal, he said social anxiety felt like it was “overwhelming” his life and he was “differently wired that everyone else.” His family brought him to doctors. Roy was also prescribed psychiatric drugs. He and Carter traded eery texts about having visions of the devil.

“It’s the perfect storm of a tragedy,” Breggin said in the film.

2.The relationship was in many ways detached from reality

Boyfriend and girlfriend might have been overselling the relationship. Carter’s home in Plainville was nearly an hour away from Roy’s hometown of Mattapoisett. Their introduction in 2012 didn’t come in Massachusetts — but in Florida, where the two families spent their February vacation.

“They met maybe five times,” Lynn Roy says in the documentary. “I never saw her. I mean I saw him text her all the time on his phone, but I didn’t think they had a relationship like that”

Carter and Roy sent each other thousands of text messages. Sometimes, they would make plans to meet in person, but wouldn’t follow through.

The exchanges also appeared to be one-sided. Carter would asked if they were officially dating, garnering a less-than-enthusiastic response from Roy. Jesse Barron, a writer who covered the case for Esquire, told filmmakers that Roy’s texts were alternately mean and sweet, sometimes “negging” Carter.

“The relationship was much more Michelle’s fantasy and Michelle’s idea than it was Conrad’s,” Barron said.

According to Barron, Carter was obsessed with the show “Glee.” And in more than a few texts about her relationship with Roy, she used both real-life and fictional quotes from actor Lea Michele, whose boyfriend Corey Monteith — who also played her character’s boyfriend on the TV show — died of a drug overdose in 2013.

“I just had it all planned out with Conrad,” Carter texted a friend following Roy’s death, nearly verbatim quoting a line from Michele’s character. “Now I have to do something different, maybe something better, I just don’t think that that’s possible. He was my person you know?”

In one exchange, Carter told Roy that she wanted to name a future child after him — and wished that he could be the father, if not for his suicide plan.

“There’s an amazing intensity to the messages that’s totally incommensurate with the relationship they had,” Barron said.

3. The text messages drove the narrative — but leave some questions lingering

Fairhaven Det. Scott Gordon says police happened on the trove of text messages almost by accident. Roy’s phone was dead when they found his body and there wasn’t much interest in it, but officers at the scene took it as evidence. They also recovered a journal containing Roy’s passwords.

“Everyone’s life is in their phone these days,” Gordon said.

Upon unlocking the phone, the detectives quickly found the “disturbing” text messages to and from Carter.

“It was just constant encouragement to take his life — almost demanding that he take his life,” Gordon said.

From advising Roy on the logistics of his suicide to repeatedly pressing him to follow through on the plan, Carter’s texts shocked police — and eventually the public.

“You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off,” she wrote the day before his suicide. “You just need to do it, Conrad.”

The records provided a rare glimpse of the two teens’ thoughts — and dominated the news coverage of the trial. However, Carter’s lawyers contend they also left some questions unanswered.

In his verdict, Judge Lawrence Moniz ruled that Carter’s actions met the legal threshold of “wanton and reckless conduct” beyond a reasonable doubt for manslaughter. Even though Moniz said that Carter’s texts encouraging Roy to follow through on his plan was not the cause of his death, the judge ruled that she recklessly failed to act at the time of his suicide. Carter’s order to Roy — after he had gotten out of the truck as it filled with poisonous gas — to get back in the vehicle was what caused his death, according to Moniz.

“Get back in” became the infamous words that decided the case.

However, the documentary concluded with the argument that the evidence that Carter said those three words — or something to that extent — is shaky, at best. Carter never sent any text messages to that effect to Roy.

After exchanging texts that evening, phone records show that Carter and Roy had two long calls — one 43 minutes and another 47 minutes — right around the time of his death (there’s no recording of what was said, only time logs). In a text two months later, Carter told Boardman that Roy “got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I f—ing told him to get back in.”

“I could have stopped him but i f—ing didn’t,” she wrote.

The defense argues, however, that Carter frequently made contradictory statements. Her friends testified during the trial that they often didn’t believe what she said. And prosecutors argued that Carter couldn’t be trusted and was seeking attention — yet they pointed to her texts to Boardman as incriminating evidence.

“They were just cherry-picking when to believe Michelle and when not to believe Michelle,” Cataldo says toward the end of the documentary.

“To now treat this juvenile as someone who committed a homicide, I think, is unfair, unjust, and illegal, and I think eventually the court system will see it,” he added.

On appeal, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously upheld Carter’s conviction earlier this year. And in February, she began serving her 15-month sentence. Carter’s legal team has until Monday to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the magazine that published Jesse Barron’s story about the Michelle Carter case. The magazine was Esquire, not GQ.

The New Michelle Carter Documentary Changed My Mind About the Case

If you’ve been following the Michelle Carter case in the news, you might have heard media tell the story of a teenage femme fatale set on manipulating and encouraging the suicide of her emotionally vulnerable boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, in order to attract sympathy and popularity.

But according to a new two-part HBO documentary, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter,” this isn’t really how the story goes. Documentary producer Erin Carr tells a more nuanced version of what happened that gives us a deeper look at Carter’s life. In fact, it changed my mind about the case in three important ways, which I’ve detailed below.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her then-boyfriend, Roy, to kill himself via text messages over multiple months. They were both teenagers at the time. During his suicide attempt, Roy was on the phone with Carter. Allegedly, he got out of his vehicle while he was attempting to take his life, and Carter instructed him to “get back in” the car to complete his suicide. Roy died by suicide on July 13, 2014.

The case was culturally significant for a number of reasons, but perhaps most prominently because it brought up the tricky question of whether we should legally treat psychological coercion toward suicide the same as we do physically assisting someone with suicide. Carter’s lawyers also argued the verdict violated her constitutional right to free speech, which her legal team is now asking the Supreme Court to review.

Before diving in, I want to clarify I’m not necessarily arguing Carter should have a lesser sentence. I’m saying we need to consider these three important aspects of the story the documentary brings to light when evaluating Carter’s case and what we think of the verdict.

1. Michelle Carter Struggled Deeply With Her Own Mental Health

One of the resounding themes that came up again and again in the documentary was Carter was not mentally well herself. Carter struggled with an eating disorder, self-harm and was on psychiatric medication by age 14. At one point Carter even found herself on the brink of her own suicide attempt, though she later stated via text message she “chickened out” and didn’t go through with it.

The documentary also presented the idea Carter may have been in love with the idea of a tragic romance, partially due to her fixation on “Glee” actress Lea Michelle. For those who don’t know, Michelle dated her “Glee” co-star Cory Monteith, who died unexpectedly from a drug overdose. “Glee” incorporated his untimely death into the show’s storyline.

In her text message conversations with Roy, Carter would often quote Michelle’s lines on “Glee” as well as quotes from interviews she gave after Monteith’s death.

“Not only was she quoting sort of language from ‘Glee’ the TV show, which a lot of young girls do, but she was quoting the real-life actress,” Carr told ET. “And to me, that was really important to put in because it really made you question, like, ‘What is Michelle Carter’s concept of reality?’ And, ‘Is she living in this reality?’”

In addition to her own mental health struggles, Carter was deeply lonely — in part because she craved intense emotional connection with her peers that came across as extreme “neediness.” During the legal proceedings, the prosecution called Carter’s school acquaintances to testify Carter was constantly (and unsuccessfully) trying to get people to hang out with her. These girls shared they hadn’t really been friends with Carter, in part because she lied a lot to try to get attention.

2. The Relationship Was Unhealthy on Both Sides

While we (understandably) tend to focus on Carter’s behaviors in the relationship, it’s worth noting Roy’s behaviors bordered on abusive at times. Roy himself was both a witness and victim of domestic violence, as his father was arrested for assault and battery for harming Roy and his mother on separate occasions.

It wasn’t uncommon for Roy’s texts to Carter to have a mean or “negging” edge to them. For example, Roy would say out-of-the-blue comments like “fuck you bitch” followed up with a “jk :)” when Carter expressed confusion in his change of tone.

The pair talked about death often. It was common in their text relationship to send pictures of suicide tools like nooses and compare themselves to Romeo and Juliet, who tragically died for love.

Roy told Carter again and again “this was the time” he would actually die by suicide, but each time he would still be alive the next day. Prior to his death, Roy previously attempted suicide four times, but toward the end, it’s possible Carter believed he wouldn’t really go through with it.

As loved ones of people who attempt suicide know, it is a trauma in and of itself to live with the constant fear your loved one could end their life at any moment. Marin Cogan, a New York Magazine columnist interviewed in the documentary, said the secret relationship between Carter and Roy was “totally destructive to their mental health.”

3. There Is No Concrete Proof Carter Told Roy to “Get Back In” the Car

The documentary suggests three words, “get back in,” are what sealed Carter’s verdict. From a legal standpoint, this was the most shocking detail of the documentary.

Though there is no direct text from Carter to Roy telling him to get back in his vehicle to complete suicide, about two months after Roy’s death, Carter texted this to a friend:

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 car because it was working and he got scared and I fucking told him to get back in.

Largely on the basis of this second-hand text, the judge convicted Carter of involuntary manslaughter, saying she not only failed to help Roy but encouraged him to enter back into an environment “inconsistent with human life.”

But did Carter actually tell Roy to “get back in”?

In the court proceedings, the prosecution spent so much time talking about how Carter often lied to get attention from her peers. The documentary highlighted texts Carter sent to friends telling different stories about her physical relationship with Roy. In one she said they had gone to third base, in another she said he raped her. One friend even responded she didn’t really believe her, implying Carter was untrustworthy.

Over and over again the prosecution proved Carter was an unreliable source of information, yet the judge ruled this particular text admitting her role in Roy’s death to a friend was a definitive admission of guilt. Carter’s lawyer noted the prosecution cherry picked when to believe Carter and when to not believe Carter.

While it is unequivocally true Carter encouraged Roy toward suicide over their months of texting, there is no tangible evidence she told him directly to get back in the car in the moments prior to his death. It’s true Carter and Roy were on the phone at the time of his death, but there was no audio recording of the call, and therefore no way to prove she said these words.

The Michelle Carter case is difficult for a lot of reasons, but as “I Love You, Now Die” argues, the story is a lot more complicated than what the media presented. If you have thoughts on the two-part series, feel free to comment below.

When suicide makes its way through the national news cycle, it can be tough for people who’ve experienced suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide or lost someone to suicide to watch a story like this unfold. In the light of this kind of news, here are five things you should remember in the wake of the Michelle Carter verdict.

What’s your take?

In the five years since 18-year-old Conrad Roy III died by suicide, the circumstances of his death have sparked a media firestorm. In June 2017, his girlfriend Michelle Carter was convicted for involuntary manslaughter in the case, despite the fact that Roy poisoned himself with carbon monoxide in his truck, all while Carter was miles away. After text messages between the two revealed that the then-17-year-old Michelle had repeatedly urged Roy to commit suicide, the story prompted debate over whether one person could be held responsible for another’s suicide.

Related Story

The case, and the issues it raised of mental health and teenage relationships in the digital age, became national news. It’s also the subject of a two-part documentary, I Love You, Now Die, which aired on HBO in July and UK channel Sky Crime in October. Directed by Erin Lee Carr, who directed HBO docs Mommy Dead and Dearest and At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, the film offers an in-depth look at Carter’s manslaughter trial. Here’s a refresher on the story, and what’s happened to Carter since the conviction.

Who is Michelle Carter?

Though both Carter and Roy were from small towns in Massachusetts, the two teenagers met while visiting relatives in Florida in 2012. Though they’d only meet face to face five times, the pair developed an intense long-distance relationship, largely carried out via text message.

The teenagers both had histories of mental health struggles, and had been prescribed antidepressants. Carter had battled with an eating disorder, and Roy had attempted to end his life prior to his ultimate successful attempt. Theirs was a toxic, largely digital romance, though at first Carter urged Roy to seek treatment for his depression and anxiety. “The mental hospital would help you,” Carter texted Roy in June 2014. “I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life.”

But in just a few weeks, Carter was sending Roy very different messages. “I’ll stay up with you if you want to tonight,” she offered on July 8. When Roy responded that “another day wouldn’t hurt,” Carter hectored him. “You can’t keep pushing it off, tho, that’s all you keep doing,” she replied. In the hours before he died, Carter continued to urge Roy to take his life, even as he continued to express doubts.

Michelle Carter arrived to court in June 2017 to learn the verdict in her bench trial. Boston GlobeGetty Images

The two were on the phone together during Roy’s final moments, and Carter would later tell a friend that he had at one point left his carbon-monoxide filled car, and that she had told him to get back inside. This was what juvenile court Judge Lawrence Moniz found decisive during Carter’s bench trial—the judge ruled that though Roy may have attempted to take his life even without Carter’s influence, he would have left his truck and abandoned the attempt had not Carter, per her text to friends, ordered him back inside.

What happened after trial?

Though Judge Moniz sentenced Carter to 15 months in prison, he allowed her sentence to be suspended until her state-level appeals were exhausted.

In February of this year, the Massachusetts Supreme Court announced its decision in Carter’s appeal. Among the points Carter’s lawyers argued was that her conviction violated her First Amendment-protected right to free speech. But the higher court found that the definition of involuntary manslaughter—“reckless or wanton conduct causing the death of another”—doesn’t exclude Carter’s texts. “The defendant cannot escape liability just because she happened to use “words to carry out illegal ,” the court noted. “Although numerous crimes can be committed verbally, they are “intuitively and correctly” understood not to raise First Amendment concerns.”

“The evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct,” the justices ruled, “she caused the victim’s death by suicide.” After the the ruling was handed down, Carter was ordered to begin her prison sentence.

Where is Carter Now?

Though Roy died when Carter was 17 and the case was adjudicated in juvenile court, she was 22 by the time she was ordered to prison.

Carter initially served her sentence at the Bristol County House of Correction adult facility. Bristol county Sheriff Thomas Hodgson (who, in 2017, offered to send inmates to help build Donald Trump’s border wall) told local reporters that Carter was “assimilating very well” to prison life, and described her as seeming “reserved and quiet.” In July 2019, Carter was moved to a different facility.

Her legal team is still pursuing appeals—that same month, they filed to appeal her conviction with the US Supreme Court. In September, Carter’s request for parole was denied. She’s expected to be released from prison in early 2020.

Gabrielle Bruney Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.