Who Is Michelle Carter, Subject of Hulu’s ‘The Girl From Plainville’?

Michelle Carter
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Her story has already been told on Lifetime in the TV film Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, on NBC’s Dateline in the episode “Reckless,” and on HBO in the documentary I Love You, Now Die. Now Michelle Carter is getting the limited-series treatment in Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville, with Elle Fanning taking on the title role.

Premiering on Tuesday, March 29, the eight-episode series rewinds the clock to when Carter was a teenager charged with and later convicted of manslaughter for persuading her boyfriend to end his life.

In July 2014, the body of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, was found in a Kmart parking lot. The 18-year-old—who had graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade point average, earned a captain’s license and was accepted to Fitchburg State University, according to The Boston Globe—had committed suicide.

After an investigation, prosecutors charged Carter, then a high school senior, with involuntary manslaughter in February 2015. A police report alleged that Carter “not only encouraged Conrad to take his own life, she questioned him repeatedly as to when and why he hadn’t done it yet,” per the Globe.

During Carter’s trial in June 2017 (she was tried as a juvenile, since she was 17 at the time of Roy’s death), prosecutors accused her of berating Roy when he expressed second thoughts. “It got to the point that he was apologizing to her…apologizing to her for not being dead yet,” prosecutor Katie Rayburn said during closing arguments, according to CNN.

In one text message, Carter wrote, “I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it babe. You can’t keep doing this every day.”

But Joseph Cataldo, Carter’s defense attorney, argued that his client was overwhelmed by Roy’s talk of suicide and that she was dealing with the side effects of depression medication. “You’re dealing with an individual who wanted to take his own life,” Cataldo said during the trial. “He dragged Michelle Carter into this.… It’s sad. It’s tragic. It’s just not a homicide.”

By the end, Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter. “This court has found that Carter’s actions and failure to act where it was her self-created duty to Roy since she put him in that toxic environment constituted reckless conduct,” the judge said. “The court finds that the conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy.”

Moniz sentenced Carter to 15 months in prison that August, and she started that prison term in February 2019, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld her conviction.

In January 2020, Carter was released from prison for good behavior, days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up her case for review, per CNN.

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Roy’s mother, Lynn Roy, released a statement at the time of Carter’s release, writing, “I will continue to honor my son every day, keeping his spirit in my memory, and to find ways to help others who may be experiencing what I have experienced. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has supported my family over the last five years. And now, it is time to turn the page to a new chapter in our lives.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

The Girl from Plainville, Series premiere, Tuesday, March 29, Hulu