In photos, Michelle Carter appears to have had the quintessential high school experience. The beautiful blonde is seen smiling, with her arms slung around her classmates, enjoying high school dances, academic challenges and athletic events.
The teen, who hailed from the small town of Plainville, Massachusetts, was named “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day” at King Philip High School and was known for her overly cheerful demeanor.
“She was in this small community known as a really sweet, caring young woman,” Dr. Peter Breggin, a clinical psychiatrist later hired by Carter’s defense team said in the HBO documentary “I Love You, Now Die.”
But under the surface of those smiling photos was a much darker reality that revealed an insecure and needy teen, who struggled with a debilitating eating disorder and seemed to have few close friends.
“There is no question that Michelle is always asking people to love her. She’s always asking to get together and seemingly is not often getting together,” Breggin said. “A lot of her friends couldn’t reciprocate because she’s too desperate. She’s so needy, it’s a hole no one can fill.”
Carter often divulged her darkest secrets to those she believed were closest to her, including regular confidante and high school classmate Samantha Boardman. Carter texted the teen about her struggles with eating, challenges in making friends and later made an apparent confession about the role she played in encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to kill himself.
Carter was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 for the death of the 18-year-old Roy. He died by carbon monoxide poisoning in the summer of 2014 while sitting in his black pickup truck in a Kmart parking lot.
Prosecutors said Carter continually pressured the teen to take his own life—even telling him to get back in the truck to finish the act after he had gotten cold feet—in part so that she could gain attention and sympathy from the friends she had been trying so desperately to win over.
“She was trying to get close to them and be part of their lives but these girls had many things going on and they really didn’t hang around with her outside of school,” prosecutor Maryclare Flynn said in court.
Flynn described Carter as “a very needy person who craved attention,” often texting girls from her high school “incessantly” revealing extremely personal details about her life.
Boardman said in court that she met Carter in her junior year of high school, with the two beginning to talk to each other in math class.
Although they rarely hung out outside of school, the two bonded over Carter’s struggles with an eating disorder.
“I watched out for her, what she was eating,” Boardman said in court, according to South Coast Today.
Carter often turned to Boardman when she was struggling, writing her one day “I am having a mental breakdown.”
Boardman replied by asking “What’s wrong?!” and later asking Carter “have u hurt yourself today? Michelle u can talk to me.”
Carter later responded, “I was doing okay and then I had pasta for dinner and I completely lost it I got so much anxiety I didn’t know what else to do.”
Carter implied in the text conversation that she had cut herself telling Boardman she was so “f---ing stupid” and needed to “get that knife out of my house.”
But while Carter would often confide in Boardman, the former classmate told the court that she was often busy with a part-time job and other obligations and that if she didn’t immediately respond back to Carter, Carter would “repeatedly” send her messages.
“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,” Carter wrote in one exchange.
She went on to say that she knew she texted people “too much” and often ended up pushing people away.
“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,” she wrote.
Her friend Evan Andrews told Esquire that people often walked all over the teen, who was once hospitalized for her eating disorder.
“Michelle wanted the confidence she saw others having,” he said.
Carter’s complaints of loneliness didn’t just extend to Boardman.
“Livy, I have like no friends,” she texted Olivia “Livy” Mosolgo, a softball teammate she’d known since the seventh grade.
Alexandra “Lexie” Eblan testified that she had once gone on a sleepover to Carter’s house with Boardman, but hadn’t wanted to be there and normally didn’t socialize with Carter outside of school.
After the sleepover, Carter texted her saying it had made her feel “wonderful,” South Coast Today reports.
But the texts between Eblan and Carter also frequently showed Carter’s insecurities and constant need for reassurance, as she asked whether the pair were friends or whether Eblan was upset with Carter.
“Lexie I don’t want you to hate me now,” she wrote in one message.
An exasperated Eblan responded, “Why are you so dramatic omg I don’t hate you. I could care less about what you said to me.”
Ali Eithier met Carter as a volunteer at a summer camp and said Carter began texting her in June 2014 after getting her number off a group text, according to The Sun Chronicle.
Although the two didn’t know each other well, Carter soon began sharing details of the “tough time” she was going through with her boyfriend, even divulging just a month later that she had heard her boyfriend die on the phone.
“I don’t know you very well,” Eithier texted back, after saying she wouldn’t be able to help her.
Carter’s persistent mental health struggles may have contributed to her inability to connect with others, according to Jesse Barron, who profiled the case for Esquire.
“Michelle had serious, serious mental health issues for most of her adolescence,” he said in the documentary. “She was incredibly lonely.”
The Dry Run
Prosecutors believe in the days before Roy took his life, Carter pressured him to carry out the act in a series of disturbing text messages in part because she wanted to gain sympathy and attention from her friends.
Flynn pointed to what she called a “dry run” just two days before his death when Carter lied to her friends and told them Roy was missing—even though she remained in regular contact with Roy who was alive and well at the time.
“He’s missing like they don’t know where he is,” she texted Boardman, claiming she had also reached out to Roy’s mom as her fears for his safety continued to grow.
“He probably would have told u if he wasn’t planning on coming back, ya know? Don’t worry yet,” Boardman replied.
Carter went on to blame herself for the fake disappearance.
“It’s all my fault,” she said. “I was supposed to save him he needed me. I let him down.”
Boardman consoled her friend and tried to tell her not to blame herself.
“Clearly he needs help for an issue that u have no control over,” she wrote.
Flynn said in court that the increased attention she was getting from Boardman and others during the “dry run” was enough to convince her Roy really needed to carry out the act.
“They are paying attention to her now, so she has to make it happen,” Flynn said.
On July 12, 2014, Carter sent Roy a barrage of text messages asking him whether he was going to kill himself that day, discounting his fears and encouraging him to carry out the act.
“You can't think about it You just have to do it? You said you were gonna do it like I don't get why you aren’t,” she wrote in one.
But when Roy expressed second doubts about the plan telling her “like why am I so hesitant lately” she continued to encourage him.
“You’re so hesitant because you keep overthinking it and pushing it off. You just need to do it Conrad," she said.
Later that night—after making two lengthy calls to Carter—he would.
In the days after Roy’s death, her friends would later testify that they finally gave her the extra attention she had so desperately sought.
Mosolgo told the court she never normally would have gone to Carter’s home, but did after Roy’s death because she believed Carter needed additional support.
Many of her friends also attended a Homers for Conrad fundraiser Carter held just a few months later in her hometown catering to mostly her own friends and family to raise money for mental health organizations.
But it was a disturbing text message she sent to Boardman that would ultimately land her behind bars for a 15-month sentence.
“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 car because it was working and he got scared and I f---ing told him to get back in,” she would write after Roy’s death.
Carter went on to say that she “couldn’t have him live the way he was living anymore I couldn’t do it I wouldn’t let him.”
It was that confession that would lead Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz to find Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Moniz said he found Carter guilty not for the series of texts she had sent Roy the last day of his life, but because she had failed to call for help after he called her and had instructed him to get back in the truck to finish the deed.
Moniz claimed that decision was “inconsistent with human life.”
Just a week after Roy died, Carter also sent Boardman another message that appeared to implicate herself in his death.
“I just got off the phone with Conrad’s mom about 20 minutes ago and she told me that detectives had to come and go through his things and stuff. It’s something they have to do with suicides and homicides,” she texted, according to The Sun Chronicle.
Carter was becoming increasingly concerned that the true level of her involvement would be discovered if investigators looked at his phone.
“Sam, they read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I could go to jail,” Carter texted.
The premonition would later become a reality after Carter was ordered to begin serving her 15-month sentence in February after the state Supreme Court refused to overturn the conviction. She appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court earlier this month.
But if Carter’s plan had really been an attempt to gain attention from her friends, it eventually would backfire.
“It was all over national news. Michelle was made out to be the bad guy. Her friends at that point, the ones that were called, did abandon her,” her defense attorney Joseph Cataldo said in the documentary.
While Carter remains behind bars—her friends have gone on to live their lives. According to Boardman’s Facebook page, she graduated this year from University of Massachusetts Amherst and now works for a company called Signature Consultants.
Her Facebook wall is filled with images of college girls having fun, in photos not so different from the ones that had once featured Carter.
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