Death by Text on 48 Hours: What’s the motivation?

Tonight, CBS 48 Hours profiled the horrific story of the suicide of teenager Conrad Roy. He was encouraged through text to commit suicide by a so-called “friend”, Michelle Carter. The text between the two are sad to read. Carter is incredibly callous and cold. And you can see in the videos of Roy, he was truly a great guy.

When watching 48 Hours, what was most shocking to me was the lack of understanding about what likely caused Carter to do this. Her motive is very clear to me. While I agree that she wanted attention, as mentioned by the prosecutors, it wasn’t her main underlying motivation. None of the psychologists seem to say why she did this. They seemed bewildered, understandably.

However, as an expert in understanding human behavior, I suspect Carter must have realized at some point in her life that she could manipulate people, and she was successful at it in certain circumstances. That ability to manipulate people, I believe, gave have her a huge sense of power. She enjoyed it. She relished in it. It made her feel significant, in control and brilliant.

I believe Carter thrived on the manipulation and control, and it was her ultimate goal to see how far she could manipulate Roy. If she could get him to commit suicide, it was her ultimate, however sick, power game that would prove her superiority to herself. It would prove to her that she was very brilliant–above people in ways they couldn’t understand.

This is a common trait of someone who is psychopathic. Psychopaths realize they can read other people well, toy with them and manipulate them. They get great joy out of the power and control.

I don’t know whether Carter is or is not a psychopath, I’m not a psychologist, but she shows several indicators that support the possibility.

If you notice during her trial, the only time she felt emotions was for herself.

Michelle Carter truly gives me the chills.

My heart goes out to Roy’s family. He was a special guy. You can clearly see he was a compassionate person who was victimized by a person without any compassion. I hope and pray Carter gets an appropriate sentence and Roy’s family can somehow find peace.


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  • Jane

    I agree. She even bragged about how she “could have stopped him,” to friends afterward, though she tried to disguise the bragging as misplaced guilt and grief. She is ice-cold and frightening. I saw a quote from her parents about how she is a quiet and kind girl who did her best to stop him. That was from before the trial I wonder, now that the trial is over and her parents watched it all unfold, where are they on the spectrum between “Our Poor Misunderstood Daughter” and…”What Monster Have We Created”?

    I can only imagine how she will go on to manipulate cell mates, therapists, parole boards…

  • Strawberry

    You can see her coldness in her eyes and on her face. Scary.

  • wttdl

    Fascinating story. If she was so convinced that her texts could betray her, I can’t understand why she wouldn’t have gone to the truck before his being discovered and grabbed his cell phone. I know she asked him to delete them, but she didn’t even delete her own phone or her other friends, right?

    I hope your next post is about the new bomb shell about Ryan Hillegas, Halbach’s boyfriend (Steve Avery Making a Murderer)

    Thanks for posting about Michelle’s power issues, makes a lot of sense. WOW

    Wonder if she would have fared better with a jury trial or not? Can’t wait till sentencing … I’m predicting 7 years.

    • You can’t really delete texts. There are records of them that can be recovered. I think that part of her psychopathy was believing she could talk her way out of it the same way she controlled her poor victim. Psychopaths don’t feel fear the way regular people do. They are confident that they’ll get out of whatever trouble they get into. That is what I have read, anyway.

      • Keith D.

        I’m not clear on whether it’s standard operating procedure to get text and call records in suicides from service providers instead of from the phone itself though. If it’s not, it really should be, although there are certain limitations there that I’m not going to mention in public because there’s no good reason for people who would try to talk someone into killing themselves to be able to find out about them.

        • Interesting. I assumed that texts were stored by the service provider, but I admit, I have no expertise on the matter. I go by the assumption that with the right subpoena, anything digital can be recovered. Nevertheless, I stand by my statement that sociopaths believe they’ll get out of anything. Look at how Casey Anthony continued to claim that she worked somewhere she didn’t work, even with the denials of the people who supposedly employed her. If I recall correctly, police had to take her to the actual workplace before she finally admitted it wasn’t true. Then she simply played the poor, put upon victim card.

          • Keith D.

            You’re correct that texts can be retrieved from the service provider for some period of time, although I’m not sure what period that actually is. I was talking about different limitations. I’m so sorry that I don’t feel like it’s a good idea to explain further publicly, because that’s irritating to me, and I’m sure it could be irritating to someone like you too. I feel bad about that, especially since the information is already available publicly, but I don’t want any more people knowing how to get past law enforcement than there already are, and it would be catastrophic to make it any easier for the many criminals who don’t already know or know how to find out. 🙁

      • wttdl

        According to this (though legislation is changing) Tracfone doesn’t retain texts … though I assume any self-respecting teen would NOT be using tracfone: cryptome.org/isp-spy/cellular-spy3.pdf

  • Nerezza

    I agree 100% with Eyes, but I disagree with the court ruling. She’s a despicable human being, and is clearly morally in the wrong, but legally speaking she didn’t kill Roy. The ruling doesn’t take his free will into account. He chose to stay in the car – she didn’t make him. Yes, he was emotionally vulnerable and yes, I agree with Eyes that she is probably a psychopath, but that doesn’t negate his ability to choose not to commit suicide, or his track record when it came to suicide attempts even before she got involved.

    • wttdl

      I think the judge’s rationale fell under the Massachusetts Law, Duty to Act, wherein “…Ms. Carter takes no action in the furtherance of the duty that she has created by instructing Mr. Roy to get back into the truck Moniz said.” aka, she knows he’s dying and moaning, and doesn’t alert authorities.

      At least, that’s my understanding of his legal rationale.

    • Keith D.

      But that doesn’t really take into account the vulnerable state that a suicidal person is already in. It’s akin to arguing that if you push someone off a cliff slowly that you shouldn’t be held culpable because the person could have just stepped aside or pushed back.

      I think the outcome might possibly have been different for her with this judge under different circumstances, but this girl had sent him over ONE THOUSAND text messages encouraging him to kill himself over a week or two period. And then when he did decide not to go through with it, she encouraged him to get back in and finish the job, and then when he did, she didn’t act in any way to get him help when she knew he needed it. If nothing else, another charge that would fit that kind of act would be depraved indifference, although I don’t know if there is a depraved indifference law in MA.

  • Erica Feininger

    I agree with you – she has many psychopathic traits and seems to only feel for herself. Scary. Hoping for a long sentence on this one.