"It was one of those things where you keep reading and it just keeps getting worse," the detective said
The lead detective who investigated the 2014 death by suicide of Massachusetts 18-year-old Conrad Roy III recounted in an interview the disturbing moment he read texts from the teen’s 17-year-old girlfriend Michelle Carter urging Roy to kill himself.
“It was one of those things where you keep reading and it just keeps getting worse. And that’s what kinda put everything in motion,” Fairhaven Police Detective Scott Gordon tells NBC News’ Andrea Canning in an upcoming episode of Dateline: Reckless, which airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on NBC. (A clip from the interview is shown above.)
Roy died in his pickup truck from carbon monoxide poisoning on July 13, 2014 — an act Carter had supported and encouraged in text and phone conversations.
Carter was sentenced to 15 months in jail after she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 but had been free pending her appeal. Her defense argued her statements and texts urging Roy forward as he contemplated suicide were covered by First Amendment free-speech protections. But on Monday, a Massachusetts court rejected the appeal.
Carter, now 21, was indicted in 2015, after her numerous text messages were discovered.
Those messages, as well as calls between the pair, showed that Carter encouraged Roy’s plan to kill himself — even when he was wavering. For example, in the days before his death, she texted him, “You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you [will] be free and happy. No more pushing it, no more waiting.”
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After Roy’s body was found, Carter texted a friend to confess.
“I could have stopped it,” she wrote. “I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I [expletive] told him to get back in.”
Carter’s trial was closely watched by legal scholars. Her defense argued that the courts “created new law” in Massachusetts in order to allow her prosecution.
At issue, essentially, was one question: Could one person kill another — commit manslaughter — through words alone?
In the end, the court said yes.
After Carter’s appeal was rejected, the Bristol County Attorney’s Office said in a statement it would soon ask the Juvenile Court to order Carter to begin serving her sentence. On Thursday, prosecutors filed a motion in court to revoke the stay of Carter’s sentence.
“This case is a tragedy for all of the people impacted by this case,” Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn said in the statement. “Her conduct was wanton and reckless, and caused the death of Conrad Roy. This type of conduct has long been a crime in Massachusetts.”
Dateline: Reckless airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.