On Monday, a Boston-area grand jury indicted a former Boston College student for involuntary manslaughter after she allegedly encouraged her college boyfriend to die by suicide on his graduation day in a case similar to the conviction of Michelle Carter for involuntary manslaughter.
According to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, former student Inyoung You was indicted on Oct. 18 after her then-boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, died by suicide less than two hours before he was set to graduate from Boston College in May. A press release from the district attorney’s office alleges You was “physically, verbally and psychologically abusive” to Urtula, which escalated in the days and hours preceding Urtula’s death.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said an investigation uncovered 75,000 text messages exchanged between the couple, many of which You allegedly sent to Urtula encouraging him to die by suicide. Over the course of the 18-month relationship, which was described as manipulative and abusive, Urtula’s depression and suicidal thoughts worsened. You allegedly tracked Urtula immediately prior to his death and was present when he died.
“Ms. You’s behavior was wanton and reckless and resulted in overwhelming Mr. Urtula’s will to live,” reads a press release on the grand jury’s indictment. “She created life-threatening conditions for Mr. Urtula that she had a legal duty to alleviate, which she failed to do.”
This case is similar to Michelle Carter’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her then-boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to die by suicide through a series of text messages and phone calls in 2014. Carter was convicted in 2017 and the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld her 15-month jail sentence for Roy’s death. HBO released a documentary titled “I Love You, Now Die,” which chronicled the case against Carter and highlighted her struggle with mental health issues.
As a result of Carter’s criminal case and Roy’s death, Massachusetts introduced legislation in July called “Conrad’s Law,” encouraged by Roy’s mother, Lynn Roy. The legislation would criminalize encouraging someone to die by suicide, punishable by up to five years in jail. Carter’s conviction, and Conrad’s Law, remain controversial in the eyes of free speech advocates and others who think a manslaughter conviction is overreaching.
When asked during a press conference about the similarities of You’s case to Carter’s, district attorney Rollins said this case is different. You not only sent Urtula thousands of text messages, but she was in close physical proximity. Carter and Roy communicated largely by text and phone calls long distance.
“We have, quite frankly, I would say, the opposite of that,” Rollins said, according to the New York Times. “We have a barrage of a complete and utter attack on this man’s very will and conscience and psyche by an individual, to the tune of 47,000 text messages in the two months leading up, and an awareness, we would argue, of his frail state at that point.”
You will be scheduled for arraignment at a date yet to be determined. She is currently in her native South Korea and authorities are working to bring her back to the United States, according to the New York Times.
Boston College spokesperson Jack Dunn told the Times Urtula was a biology major and worked as a researcher in New York prior to his death in May.
“Alexander was a gifted student at Boston College, who was involved in many activities, including the Philippine Society of Boston College,” Dunn said. “We continue to offer our condolences to Alex’s family.”