Warning: Some of the content in this story is graphic and includes discussion of suicide.
When Boston College student Alexander Urtula didn’t respond quickly enough to his girlfriend’s texts, or resisted her demands to cut off contact with his friends, she often responded with a harsh threat.
She said she would kill herself, prosecutors said Friday. And it would be his fault, she warned.
“If you do not [expletive] read it right now I’m literally going to [expletive] slash my throat and take a video saying it was because of you,” she wrote two days before Urtula’s suicide in May. “Is that what you [expletive] want. I have to [expletive] threaten my life for u to listen to me?”
In response, Urtula, 22, repeatedly told Inyoung You, 21, that he would do whatever she wanted to make her happy, even if it meant ending his own life, prosecutors said.
“Just please don’t do anything don’t hurt yourself anymore,” he told her in April. “I’ll get out of your life I’ll go die like you want . . . I’ll erase myself from this world.”
You’s threats were part of a ruthless campaign of abuse against Urtula that caused his suicide, prosecutors said in court Friday as You was arraigned on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
You, a former BC student who returned from South Korea to face the charges, pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 bail. She was ordered to surrender her passport and not leave the state. A trial date was set for next November.
Prosecutors disclosed the texts Friday as part of their case that You’s “consistent and repeated psychological abuse . . . overwhelmed Urtula’s will to live.” Between late March and his death on May 20, the couple exchanged more than 75,000 messages, with You often urging Urtula to kill himself.
“Go [expletive] die in hell you deserve to go [expletive] kill yourself,” she wrote in April. “And if you don’t die I’m gonna [expletive] kill myself.”
On the morning he was slated to graduate from BC, Urtula took an Uber to a Roxbury parking garage.
You later followed him there through his phone’s GPS and was on the top floor of the garage when he jumped, prosecutors said.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Grasso said You made no effort to stop Urtula and did not ask anyone for help when she arrived at the garage. You had previously threatened to kill herself at the same garage, prosecutors said.
Outside the courthouse, You’s lawyer, Steven Kim, denounced the criminal prosecution as “unjust, callous behavior by a district attorney, in what I can only conclude is the cheap pursuit of headlines.”
“After the indictment came down, [Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins] waited several days for a slow news cycle and then held a press conference and decided to paint a fragile 21-year-old as a monster to the entire world,” Kim said. “When the facts come out, it will be clear that these two young individuals, who were very needy emotionally, were involved in a toxic blend of fear, anger, need, and love.”
In a statement, Rollins said, “We are focusing our attention on the victim in this case and his loving family.”
“We will honor Alexander and his legacy by holding the defendant accountable for her relentless, reckless, abusive and criminal behavior,” she said.
Kim said prosecutors are “cherry-picking” text messages to sully You’s reputation. According to a public relations firm representing her, You sent Urtula a series of text messages on the morning of his death imploring him not to hurt himself.
“I’m far away on a tall place and I’m not gonna be here for long,” Urtula wrote. “I’m leaving everyone.”
“ALEX,” You wrote. “WHAT SRE YOU [expletive] DOING. IF U [expletive] LOVE ME STOP. IF U EVER [expletive] LOVED ME STOP.”
“I did love you just not well enough,” Urtula wrote. “Good bye.”
“STOP,” she wrote.
According to two sources close to You’s family, Urtula jumped as soon as he saw her at the garage.
Prosecutors asked clerk Michelle Fentress to bar You’s lawyers from releasing evidence in the case to reporters or other members of the public. Fentress granted the request.
Through a spokesman, the Urtula family said they were grateful for the support of the district attorney’s office.
“Not a minute of any day goes by without those who loved Alex grieving and continually feeling the sharp pain of his passing all over again,” David Guarino, a spokesman for the Urtula family, said in a statement.
The manslaughter allegations against You, who withdrew from BC in August, recall the controversial prosecution of Michelle Carter, a teenager from Plainville convicted of involuntary manslaughter after her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, died by suicide in 2014. Carter had texted him for months, urging him to kill himself.
The case gained national attention and sparked a legal debate of whether words alone should justify criminal charges in cases of coerced suicide. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld Carter’s conviction, which has been appealed to the US Supreme Court.
Prosecutors have described You as an abusive partner who exerted “complete and total control” over Urtula during their 18-month relationship. In court records, prosecutors stated that You became livid last year after discovering that Urtula had continued to socialize with an ex-girlfriend, a BC classmate.
Witnesses observed You “being physically and verbally abusive” toward Urtula and threatening self-harm as a way to control him, prosecutors said. He told friends that “the reason he didn’t feel comfortable ending the relationship was because he knew that if he did that she would do something drastic.”
Two months before his death, Urtula wrote in his journal that You “attacks my self-worth.”
“Whenever we argue it always reverts back to the past and how I lied and hurt her before and how she doesn’t believe that it won’t happen again. Then I when I agree to end it because she says she’s done with me because I’m a ‘horrible [expletives] that is just a burden on everyone’s life,’ she in turn threatens to kill herself because of me.’’
On the night before graduation, Urtula had spent the night in You’s dormitory room. Instead of meeting his family at Alumni Stadium for graduation, he took an Uber to the parking garage, arriving about 7:30 a.m.
He sent text messages to You and his brother, saying he planned to end his life. They tried to reach him, and while he initially responded to You, he eventually did not answer.
If you need help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).