A woman who is charged with manslaughter in the suicide death of her boyfriend and fellow Boston College student claims that she tried to prevent the tragedy, despite inundating him with text messages demanding he kill himself.
Inyoung You, 21, told investigators that she rushed to Boston parking garage where Alexander Urtula, 22, jumped to his death on May 20 and tried to stop him, two law enforcement officials told the Boston Globe.
You, a native of South Korea who grew up in Washington state, was indicted this week on involuntary manslaughter charges in Urtula’s death. Prosecutors said that You sent Urtula thousands of text messages urging him to kill himself.
You had used her phone to track Urtula to the garage and was present when he killed himself, prosecutors have said.
Inyoung You, 21, was ‘physically, verbally and psychologically abusive’ to fellow Boston College student Alexander Urtula during an 18-month relationship, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said at a news conference. Both are pictured above
On the day of his death, Urtula’s parents, immigrants from the Philippines, were present on campus for his graduation, and he contacted them that morning saying that he planed on hurting himself, the law enforcement officials said.
You dropped out of Boston College following Urtula’s death and fled to South Korea.
Authorities said Monday they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ she will return to face charges, but Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said her office is prepared to pursue extradition.
It is unclear whether an extradition request has been filed, and the Justice Department said it does not comment on individual requests, including whether they exist.
Legal experts say that the novelty of the legal theory behind the prosecution may present challenges if You tries to fight extradition.
America’s extradition treaty with South Korea includes a clause stipulating that the charges must be for a crime that is recognized in both countries.
‘South Korea might argue that the mode of participation in the crime would not be recognized under South Korean law, in the fact this is a fairly unorthodox mode of participation,’ John Cerone, a visiting professor of international law at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, told the Boston Herald.
The state of Massachusetts previously successfully prosecuted Michelle Carter for involuntary manslaughter for using text messages and phone calls to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself in 2014.
However, there are few if any other precedents in the U.S., and it is unclear whether such a case has been prosecuted in South Korea.
Prosecutors in Boston say that You had ‘complete and total control’ over her boyfriend before he took his own life.
Inyoung You, 21, was ‘physically, verbally and psychologically abusive’ Urtula during an 18-month relationship, Rollins said at a news conference on Monday.
Rollins said she sent the 22-year-old – who was originally from Cedar Grove, New Jersey – more than 47,000 text messages in the last two months of their relationship, including many urging him to ‘go kill himself’ or ‘go die’.
‘You also tracked Urtula and was nearby when he died in Boston on May 20, the day of his Boston College graduation,’ she said in court.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins acknowledged similarities between You’s case and Carter’s case but said there were significant differences as well, such as the complete control You had over Urtula
The case was likened to that of Michelle Carter the Massachusetts woman who was sentenced to 15 months in jail after she was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for using text messages and phone calls to encourage her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, him to kill himself in 2014
Rollins acknowledged similarities between You’s case and Carter’s case but said there were significant differences as well, such as the complete control You had over Urtula.
‘Many of the messages display the power dynamic of the relationship, wherein Ms. You made demands and threats with the understanding that she had complete and total control over Mr. Urtula both mentally and emotionally,’ Rollins said.
You isolated Urtula from friends and family and was aware of the depression and suicidal thoughts brought on by her abuse, the district attorney said.
Prosecutors are in negotiations with You’s counsel to get her to return to the US voluntarily, but if she does not, Rollins said, she will start extradition proceedings.
Representatives who could speak for You could not immediately be located. A spokesman for Rollins said he could not disclose the name of You’s counsel.
Urtula was a biology major who had completed his course work and was working as a researcher at a hospital in New York at the time of his death, Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said in an emailed statement. He was also active in the Philippine Society of Boston College, an organization of Filipino American students.
You studied economics at Boston College and had been scheduled to graduate next May but withdrew in August, Dunn said.
Carter’s lawyers maintained her texts were constitutionally protected free speech. Her conviction was upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, but has been appealed to the US Supreme Court, which hasn’t yet decided whether it will take up the case.
For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255