Who Is Conrad Roy, The Teen Victim In Texting Suicide Case?

Conrad Roy III's suicide would lead to his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, getting sent to prison.

By Jill Sederstrom
Conrad Roy

At just 18 years old, Conrad Roy III had his whole life in front of him. The recent college graduate loved the sea and had just gotten his captain’s license. He had a beautiful girlfriend who frequently professed her love for him and he believed he had a “great” family.

But Roy’s life was also plagued by darker forces, including a debilitating battle with anxiety and depression, difficulty adjusting to life after his parents’ divorce, and what prosecutors would later call constant pressure by his own girlfriend to follow through on plans to die by suicide.

Roy died on Sunday, July 13, 2014 by poisoning himself with carbon monoxide fumes while he sat in his pickup truck outside a Kmart in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His girlfriend, Michelle Carter, now 22, was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in the death after authorities said she sent a series of text messages — and even talked with him during the act urging him to get back in the car after he had gotten scared — that encouraged him to kill himself.

Carter’s attorneys are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her appeal arguing that her conviction violated her right to free speech, according to The Associated Press. The controversial case is also the subject of HBO’s new documentary “I Love You, Now Die” — but just who was Conrad Roy III, the teen victim at the center of the shocking story?

Roy Was At Home On The Water

Conrad Roy III was born September 12, 1995 to his parents, Lynn Roy and Conrad Roy Jr. His mother described him as a “beautiful soul” who was a happy child, according to CBS News.

From an early age, it was apparent that one of the places Roy felt most at home was on the water. In the HBO documentary, which aired in part Tuesday night, his grandfather Conrad Roy Sr. recalled bringing his grandson out on the water with him while he was working when Conrad Roy III was just 3 weeks old.

“I have some great memories of that. Some really great memories,” he through tears as he recalled his grandson’s frequent visits.

His father, Conrad Roy Jr, said his son began to see his love for the water as a possible career choice.

“Our family, we work in the water and we play in the water,” he said in the documentary.

By June 2014, Roy had graduated from high school with an impressive 3.88 GPA and also earned his captain’s license from the Northeast Maritime Institute... but a career on the water or plans for college would never become a reality.

Roy Struggled With Depression

As Roy got older, his family says he began to struggle with social anxiety and depression. It was a struggle Roy documented himself just a month before he died in a series of videos he recorded.

“For me, social anxiety feels like it’s overwhelming my life,” he said in the video shown in the documentary. “The first thing I want to do is be more proactive in a social environment, try to contribute to the conversation as well as I can and just be more confident in myself.”

Roy acknowledged that he has a lot going for him in his life in the video but said he continued to struggle with feelings of depression.

“There’s people that love me,” he said. “I have a great mom. Great dad, for the most part. But I am so depressed. I feel like I am differently wired from everyone else, like there is something wrong with me.”

Roy went on to say that he often felt out of place in the world.

“What I am doing is looking at myself so negatively,” he said according to MassLive. “Look at myself minuscule, little particle on the face of this earth. No good trash. Will never be successful. Never have no life, never have kids, never, never learn.”

But while Roy openly discussed his negative feelings, he also voiced his desire to overcome these emotions.

“I have a lot to offer someone,” he said. “I’m introverted, nice, and caring. With some benefits. I’m a nice kid.”

Lynn Roy told “48 Hours” she believed her son was often his own biggest critic.

“He was rough on himself. He really, really struggled with just disappointing, I think, myself and his dad,” she said.

The depression and anxiety reached such heights that Roy tried to kill himself in October 2012 with acetaminophen.

Roy Had A Fractured Family

His parents said in “I Love You, Now Die” that they believe some of their son’s struggles may have been triggered by their divorce.

“It was during high school and it was when, like, he started school back up again,” his father said. “We didn’t notice it right away but his grades were slipping, and he was saying he was having a tough time staying focused.”

At times, the tensions at home may have escalated to violence.

In 2011, Lynn Roy was arrested for domestic violence after a fight with her then-husband, according to Boston.com.

Roy’s father claimed he had been “attacked in front of his children” in an affidavit filed in the case.

Although Lynn Roy was charged with domestic assault and battery at the time, she was never convicted.

Mattapoisett police officers were called to Roy’s home again in February 2013 for an alleged domestic assault incident.

Two police officers were called to the stand to testify about the incident in Carter’s trial, but were unable to reveal many details about what may have transpired that night, according to MassLive.

They did say that they arrived at the residence and talked to both Roy and his father. Officers also identified a series of photos showing a bruised and battered Roy, but the images were not shown to the court.  

Oxygen.com reached out to Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons to learn more about the alleged incident, but was told, “In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts domestic incidents are exempt from the public records.”

Roy’s parents said after they saw him begin to struggle in school, they got him professional help, taking him to see psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The family also decided to put put Roy on an anti-depressant.

They believed the interventions were helping and that Roy’s life was getting back on track.

“It seemed like everything was, like, getting better,” his dad said.

Roy's Toxic Relationship With Carter

During a vacation to Florida to visit his great-aunt, Roy would meet Carter, paving the way for a dysfunctional relationship between the troubled pair.

The two were introduced by Roy’s great-aunt and Carter’s grandparents, according to his sister Camdyn Roy.

She said in the HBO documentary that the pair went on a bike ride together and soon hit it off. Although they met in Florida, both teens lived in Massachusetts, just about an hour away from each other.

“I would say the relationship between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy is a thoroughly modern romance, right? It’s a romance conducted almost entirely online,” New York Magazine columnist Marin Cogan comments in “I Love You, Now Die.”

Although the pair exchanged thousands of texts to each other, they met in person fewer than five times.

Cogan called the “secret” relationship “totally destructive to their mental health.”

Those who knew the teens believe they likely bonded over their shared mental health issues. While Roy had been hospitalized for his previous suicide attempt, Carter had been hospitalized for an eating disorder. Both were also taking antidepressants.

“You know, probably the attraction was they both had their issues,” Carter’s former softball coach Ed McFarland told “48 Hours.”

The pair would prove to be a toxic blend as Roy continued to contemplate taking his life and Carter began to help him plan the act — regularly encouraging him to complete the deed.

“You kept pushing it off an you say you’ll do it, but you never do,” one text message from Carter said the day he died, according to MassLive. “It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You are just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it.”

Later that night, Roy would, cutting short a life filled with potential.

Part 2 of "I Love You, Now Die" airs July 10 on HBO.

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