BOSTON (CBS) – A former Boston College student was indicted after she allegedly sent thousands of text messages to her boyfriend encouraging him to kill himself. Prosecutors say 21-year-old Inyoung You was with her boyfriend, 22-year-old Alexander Urtula, when he jumped off the roof of a parking garage the day he was scheduled to graduate from BC.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced the indictment on Monday. You is currently in South Korea, but Rollins said she is “cautiously optimistic” You will return to the United States voluntarily to face an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Urtula died on May 20, the day of the Boston College graduation ceremonies. Relatives were in town from New Jersey to watch him walk and receive his diploma.
“His family never got to do so,” said Rollins.
After an investigation Rollins described as “extensive,” police determined that You was on the roof of parking garage with Urtula when he jumped. Rollins said the couple dated for about 18 months, and during the two months leading up to Urtula’s death, they exchanged about 75,000 text messages.
Rollins estimated that You told Urtula to kill himself hundreds of times. You also allegedly used Urtula’s cell phone to track him and follow him to the parking garage the day he died.
Rollins said the text messages showed the power dynamic in the relationship, and that You knew she had control over Urtula’s “spiraling depression and suicidal thoughts.” Prosecutors said You’s abusive behavior became “more frequent, powerful, and demeaning,” leading up to Urtula’s death.
Family members of You and Urtula witnessed the alleged abuse during their relationship, Rollins said.
Though Rollins said there are similarities between the case and recent conviction of Michelle Carter, she added this is a “separate and distinct case” with vast differences as well. Carter used text messages to encourage Conrad Roy to kill himself. Rollins said in the case of Urtula’s death, there was also physical contact between the couple.
CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman said You’s case might be harder to prove though. “She might be texting him but then she goes to the place where he commits suicide, we don’t know what happened there.”
Rollins said the case is another example of an epidemic of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is not perpetrated by one type of abuser,” Rollins said. “A perpetrator is not limited by their gender or the gender of their partner. Domestic violence may not always look the same, but it is always about power and control.”
Becky Maki, Conrad Roy’s aunt, said she believes Carter’s conviction may have spurred Rollins to prosecute You.
“The D.A. can see that there was precedent that was set with the Carter case,” she said.
Maki said Urtula’s death is another reason to raise awareness for the uncomfortable topic of suicide.
“It’s reaching out when you see that someone is struggling and getting them help. Or if you’re struggling, getting help,” she said.