A former Boston College student accused of encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself appears to have pleaded with him to “stop,” according to text messages released by a public relations firm representing her.
Inyoung You, 21, was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with death of Alexander Urtula, 22, who jumped from a parking garage only hours before his graduation on May 20.
You, wearing a gray peacoat and a white turtleneck sweater, pleaded not guilty Friday through her attorney in Massachusetts’ Suffolk Superior Court. She showed no emotion at the arraignment as a prosecutor outlined the physical, verbal and psychological abuse that the state alleges led to Urtula’s suicide.
Prosecutors said investigators found a trove of text messages in which You told Urtula to “go kill himself” or to “go die,” and that she, his family and the world would be better off without him.
This week, a public relations firm representing You shared a series of text messages from the day Urtula died. The messages are believed to be a portion of the tens of thousands of messages that authorities say the couple exchanged in the months prior to Urtula’s death.
In the text messages, first reported by The Boston Globe, You repeatedly asks Urtula where he is.
“who’d u run into or talk to? whose room did u go to? hello,” she wrote.
“I’m not talking to anyone. I won’t ever again. I’m happy I got to spend my last night with you. I love you inyoung until my last breath,” Urtula replied.
After a series of back and forth texts with You continuously asking Urtula for his location, it appears that Urtula referenced the parking garage.
“I’m far away on a tall place and I’m not gonna be here for long. I’m leaving everyone,” Urtula wrote.
“ALEX. WHAT SRE YOU F****** DOING. IF U F****** LOVE ME STOP. IF U EVER F****** LOVED ME STOP,” You replied. She typed “STOP” three times during their exchange, and many more times in more than 100 texts she sent after he stopped responding.
Prosecutors have said You tracked Urtula’s location on May 20 and was present when he jumped from the parking garage.
When asked about the text messages, a spokesman with the Suffolk County District Attorney said his office will not be commenting on the case “beyond what is stated in court.”
A toxic relationship, district attorney says
At arraignment Friday, Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Grasso described Urtula as a driven and strong-willed young man with no history of mental issues whose life was upended during a short but tumultuous relationship with You.
You’s alleged abuse started in the late summer of 2018, when she accused Urtula of not being truthful about his contact with a former girlfriend and Boston College classmate, Grasso said.
You used abuse and repeated threats to harm herself to isolate Urtula from his friends, Grasso said. On one occasion, she threatened to take her life by jumping from the same garage rooftop from which Urtula eventually killed himself, the prosecutor said.
“Alex felt trapped, like he had no option but to stay with her because her life was literally in his hands,” Grasso quoted one witness as saying.
The relationship became so toxic that Urtula essentially ceded his autonomy to You, Grasso said. She read a text message in which the young man wrote, “You own me all of me. Only you. You have have complete control of me emotionally and physically, and you dictate my happiness.”
Grasso said, “She repeatedly texted him to go kill himself, go die, told him that her life, his family’s life and the world would be better off without him.”
Prosecutors have said the alleged pattern of abuse and manipulation intensified toward the end of You and Urtula’s 18-month relationship, when You allegedly “made demands and threats” and exercised “total control” of Urtula. She was aware of her boyfriend’s depression from the relationship, they contend, and urged him “hundreds of times” to kill himself.
In a statement after the arraignment, defense attorney Steven Kim accused prosecutors of “unjust and callous behavior in what I can only conclude is the cheap pursuit of headlines.”
Kim said prosecutors “branded an emotionally fragile young woman a monster to the entire world, further traumatizing her.” He accused the state of “painting a one-sided, incendiary portrait of an innocent 21 year-old student.”
“When the facts come out it will be clear — these were two emotionally needy young adults whose relationship had become a toxic blend of need, anger, fear and love,” the statement said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement that the state’s attention remains “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,” the statement said. “This process will be long and difficult, but we will be there with the Urtula family each step of the way, remembering the best parts of Alexander.”
Last month, Rollins talked about the evidence. “We have a barrage of a complete and utter attack on this man’s very will and conscience and psyche by an individual to the tune of 47,000 text messages in the two months leading up” to the death, she said then.
Trial set for November 2020
You’s bail was set at $5,000 cash, and she was ordered to surrender her passport. She must remain in Massachusetts and check in biweekly with the probation department. Her trial is scheduled for November 9, 2020.
At the request of the prosecution, the court also issued a protective order — “subject to further review” — prohibiting the defense, through the public relations firm, from distributing text messaged related to the case.
You was led away in handcuffs after the arraignment and though her lawyer said she would post bail.
A spokesman for the Urtula family, David Guarino, said Thursday that the pain was “still so fresh for those who loved” the late college student.
“Since losing Alexander in May, the Urtula family and everyone who loved Alex has been devastated by his loss. 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. Alex’s family respects the process underway in Massachusetts and, because it is ongoing and because the pain of their loss is still so fresh for those who loved him, the family will not be making any further public comments at this time,” Guarino said.
You was studying economics in Boston but returned to her native South Korea months ago. She was scheduled to graduate in May 2020 but withdrew from classes in August, a school spokesperson has said. A grand jury returned an indictment October 18.