A grand jury indicted a former Boston College student this month in the death of her boyfriend, who attended the same school and took his own life less than two hours before his graduation ceremony, prosecutors said Monday.
Inyoung You, 21, who is from South Korea, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Alexander Urtula, 22, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said at a news conference.
You is currently in South Korea, Rollins said, but authorities are "cautiously optimistic" that she will voluntarily return to the United States.
"If she does not, we will utilize the power we have to get her back," Rollins added.
Prosecutors allege that during the 18 months that Urtula and You dated, she exerted control over him, tracking his movement via his cellphone and sending thousands of texts in the run-up to his death.
"She was aware of his suicidal thoughts," Rollins said, "and she encouraged him to take his own life."
Urtula, a biology major originally from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, and a member of the Philippine Society of Boston College, died after authorities say he jumped from a parking garage on May 20 — the same day he was supposed to walk in his commencement at Boston College.
Prosecutors said in the two months before he took his own life, he and You exchanged 75,000 text messages, with more than half coming from her.
Rollins said the texts appeared to become "more frequent, powerful and demeaning," even though You knew of Urtula's "spiraling depression." The texts allegedly included repeated messages for Urtula to kill himself and to "go die," and that the world would be better off without him.
The situation echoes another case in Massachusetts in which a young woman, Michelle Carter, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 for the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. The case drew national attention and was the subject of an HBO documentary this year, "I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter."
The case against Carter hinged on text messages in which she appeared to prod Roy to "take action." Both Carter and Roy suffered from depression, attorneys said at the trial.
Carter began serving her 15-month sentence earlier this year; her most recent request for parole was rejected last month.
Roy's death has inspired a state bill known as Conrad's Law, which would make it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, for anyone who "intentionally coerces or encourages" a suicide or a suicide attempt.
Rollins acknowledged the bill and the Carter case Monday in announcing the charge against You.
"The culprits are both the girlfriends in those circumstances, but where I would distinguish, and I think the facts will show, in Carter there was very limited physical contact prior and some very egregious language in the moments leading up to the death," Rollins said.
"We have, quite frankly, the opposite of that," Rollins said regarding Urtula's and You's tumultuous relationship. "We have a barrage, a complete and utter attack on this man's very will and conscious and psyche by an individual to the tune of 40,000 text messages in the two months leading up."
Prosecutors added that You instructed Urtula hundreds of times to kill himself, and that she tracked him through his cellphone to the parking garage where he would take his own life.
"You was aware of his location and was present on the roof of the parking structure at the time that he did jump," Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Grasso said.
Investigators also found Urtula's journal entries and conducted interviews with family and classmates who said they witnessed the abuse he suffered.
Neither You nor a representative for her could be reached for comment.
"A perpetrator is not limited by their gender or the gender of their partner," Rollins said. "Domestic violence may not always look the same, but it is always about power and control."
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.