This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com for additional resources.
Michelle Carter, then 17, made headlines in 2014 when it was discovered that she had sent texts to her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, 18, who struggled with depression, urging him to kill himself.
Since then, Carter’s case has spawned debate and several media projects, including Hulu’s eight-part drama “The Girl From Plainville,"“ in which Elle Fanning plays Carter. In 2020, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Here’s what to know.
Michelle Carter's case made headlines in 2014
Conrad Roy III died by suicide in July 2014. Authorities discovered Roy’s body in his pickup truck, which he had parked in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, MA, and inhaled carbon monoxide.
Later, investigators discovered texts sent from Carter to Roy that reframed Roy’s death. Though the Massachusetts teens only met a handful of times in real life, beginning with their first meeting on vacation in Florida in 2012, they frequently communicated by text.
According to evidence introduced during Carter’s 2017 trial, per the New York Times, Roy confided feelings of suicidal ideation to Carter in Oct. 2012. At the time, she wrote, “You have so much to live for please don’t,” she told him. Roy had made other suicide attempts, as “The Girl from Plainville” notes.
In June 2014, Carter wrote to a friend, “I’m keeping him alive basically,” per the trial. But in July 2014, the tenor of her texts changed: Carter began encouraging Roy’s plans for self-harm. Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified for the defense, said during the trial that Carter may have thought it was a “good thing to help (Roy) die,” per the New York Times.
Michelle Carter sent Conrad Roy over a thousand texts in the week before his death
According to court testimony, per NBC Boston, Carter sent Roy a significant number of texts, including over a thousand in the week leading up to his death. Most of the messages that week encouraged him to kill himself, even when Roy expressed doubts or took the conversation in a different direction, per court record.
Carter was also on the phone with Roy immediately before his death and, according to text messages she sent another friend, told him to “get back in” the truck, filling up with carbon monoxide fumes, after he expressed doubts, per texts read during the trial.
Michelle Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter
Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Feb. 2015, several months after Roy’s death. She was 17 at the time of her trial and charged as a “youthful offender” instead of a juvenile, which meant she could be sentenced as an adult.
Carter’s trial began in June 2017, when she was 20. Carter waived her right to a trial by jury and instead asked that the case be decided by a judge. Judge Lawrence Moniz ruled on June 16 that Carter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Michelle Carter was diagnosed with depression
Before the trial, Carter was being treated for depression. Carter also told a friend that she was dealing with an eating disorder, as revealed in the trial, per NBC News. fixed sourcing
CNN reported that during the trial, Dr. Breggin, a psychiatrist testifying for the defense, said that Carter may have been impacted by switching from Prozac, an antidepressant she had been taking since she was 11, to Celexa, another medication for depression, in April 2014.
Michelle Carter was released from prison in 2020
Though Carter faced up to 20 years in prison, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison and five years of probation in her 2017 bench trial. She was not imprisoned until she exhausted her appeals, and in Feb. 2019 started her sentence.
In an April 2022 interview with “20/20,” Roy’s mother Lynn St. Denis (née Roy) said that Carter’s sentence was too light. St. Denis sued Carter for $4.2 million in a 2019 wrongful death lawsuit, but the suit was dismissed.
“15 months goes by in the blink of an eye and I have a lifetime without my son,” she told “20/20.”
Multiple projects have been made about the Michelle Carter case
In addition to the eight-episode Hulu miniseries “The Girl From Plainville,” two other media projects have been made about the case.
In 2018, Lifetime premiered a movie called “Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill,” which starred Austin P. McKenzie and Bella Thorne as the titular characters.
In 2019, HBO released a two-part documentary called “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter,” created by filmmaker Erin Carr.
NBC News has reported that Carter is not allowed to profit from her story, per the conditions of her release.
Where is Michelle Carter now?
Carter has not made any public appearances since she was released from prison in 2020. There is no publicly reported information concerning her whereabouts or life after prison.
CORRECTION (5/5 at 10:34 a.m.): Dr. Peter Breggin's profession has been correctly identified.