Inyoung You is a 21-year-old South Korean woman who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the suicide death of her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, at Boston College. The 22-year-old Urtula died by suicide on his graduation day on May 20, 2019. Prosecutors say You, a former BC student, was “physically, verbally and psychologically abusive” toward Urtula during an “18-month-long tumultuous relationship.”
You was indicted by a grand jury on October 18, 2019, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced on October 28. She has returned to South Korea and dropped out of Boston College during her junior year, Rollins said.
Rollins’ office said in a statement, “The abuse became more frequent, more powerful and more demeaning in the days and hours leading up to Mr. Urtula’s death.”
Urtula’s family had traveled to Massachusetts from his native New Jersey for his graduation, which was held at Alumni Stadium on the Boston College campus. But Urtula jumped to his death from the Renaissance Park Garage in Roxbury at 8:35 a.m., two hours before he was set to graduate.
You was tracking Urtula’s location using his iPhone on the day he died, as she frequently did, Rollins said, and she was at the Renaissance parking garage and present on the roof when he leapt and killed himself.
“If you or someone you know has been affected by domestic violence and are in immediate danger call 911. In addition, a free 24/7 statewide support line is available through SafeLink at 1-877-785-2020,” Rollins’ office said in a statement. “To be connected to additional resources you can also contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 617-419-4000 and ask to the Chief of the Victim Witness Advocate Unit. You are not alone. Help is available.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line, which provides 24/7 support with a trained crisis counselor. You can also call the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) helpline at 1-800-950-6264, or text NAMI to 741741. NAMI also has programs for family and caregivers that provide education and support.
Here’s what you need to know about Inyoung You and the suicide death of Alexander Urtula:
1. Inyoung You & Urtula Exchanged More Than 75,000 Text Messages in the 2 Months Prior to His Death & She Sent Messages Telling Him to ‘Go Kill Himself’ & ‘Go Die,’ Prosecutors Say
The investigation into Alexander Urtula’s death was led by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates the Renaissance garage, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, according to the DA’s press release. Investigators searched Urtula’s cell phone after he died and said they learned about the abusive nature of his communications with Inyoung You, his girlfriend of 18 months.
“This unrelenting abuse was witnessed by friends and classmates of both parties and documented extensively in text messages between the couple, and in Mr. Urtula’s journal entries,” the district attorney’s office said.
According to prosecutors, “In the two months prior to his May 20 death, the couple exchanged more than 75,000 text messages, of which Ms. You sent more than 47,000. 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. Her texts included repeated admonitions for Mr. Urtula to ‘go kill himself’ to ‘go die’ and that she, his family, and the world would be better off without him.”
Rollins said at a press conference that You specifically told Urtula to kill himself hundreds to thousands of times in text messages. “There were many, many instances in which she instructed him to do so,” Rollins said.
The district attorney’s office said You used “manipulative attempts and threats of self-harm to control” Urtula and to “isolate him from friends and family.” According to prosecutors, You was, “aware of his spiraling depression and suicidal thoughts brought on by her abuse. Even still, she continued to encourage Mr. Urtula to take his own life.”
2. Prosecutors Say You Was ‘Wanton & Reckless & Resulted in Overwhelming Mr. Urtula’s Will to Live’ & She ‘Created Life-Threatening Conditions’ for Urtula
“Students come to Boston from around the world to attend our renowned colleges and universities. They are eager to learn and experience our vibrant city. Their families and loved ones do not expect them to face unending physical and mental abuse,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement.
According to prosecutors, “The indictment alleges Ms. You’s behavior was wanton and reckless and resulted in overwhelming Mr. Urtula’s will to live; and that she created life-threatening conditions for Mr. Urtula that she had a legal duty to alleviate, which she failed to do.”
Rollins added, “I would like to thank my staff, especially Assistant District Attorneys Caitlin Grasso and Cailin Campbell, who have led this investigation and carefully considered how to bring this unique case to trial where a jury will ultimately decide if Ms. You caused Mr. Urtula to take his life. The work of the MBTA Transit Police was invaluable.”
Superintendent Richard Sullivan of the MBTA Police Department said at a press conference, “I personally responded to this scene back in May and what appeared to be a self-inflicted horrific tragedy ended up being much more than that.”
3. You Was Studying Economics at Boston College
Inyoung You was studying economics at Boston College and was scheduled to graduate in 2020, according to her now-deleted Linkedin profile.
It is not clear if You has hired an attorney or if she has, who is representing her. She could not be reached for comment by Heavy.
Rollins said at a press conference, “This case is a tragedy, but it’s just one example of a systemic epidemic. On a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hot lines nationwide. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It effects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality. Domestic violence does not manifest in one particular way. It can be forced isolation from friends or family, physical assault, stalking, economic coersion, emotional threats, sexual assault and psychological intimidation.”
Rollins added, “Domestic violence is not perpetrated by one type of abuser. 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.”
4. She & Urtula Were Both in the Philippine Society at Boston College
Inyoung You and Alexander Urtula were both members of the Philippine Society at Boston College, according to the group’s Facebook page. You served as the group’s treasurer in 2017. “The Philippine Society of Boston College (PSBC) is an organization that celebrates the beauty and richness of the Filipinx culture,” the group says on Facebook.
Urtula, who graduated from Regis High School in Manhattan, studied biochemistry at Boston College. He had worked as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital while still at BC, according to his Linkedin profile. He is survived by his parents and brother.
After his death, Joy Moore, the interim vice president of student affairs at Boston College, said in a statement, “Alexander Urtula, from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, was a biology major in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, who had completed his course work in December. He was working as a researcher in a hospital in New York, and had planned to attend Commencement Exercises today.”
Moore added, “Alexander was a gifted student who was involved in many activities while at BC, including the Philippine Society of Boston College. While today is a day for celebration, we ask you to take a moment to remember Alexander, his family, and friends in your prayers during this most difficult time.”
Rollins said it was an “incredibly tragic event, where his family was present from New Jersey waiting for him to arrive and there were a series of correspondence between him and his family where ultimately they learned he intended to do this.”
She said they were waiting to watch him graduate and his family never got to do so.”
5. You Could Be Extradited to the U.S. From South Korea if She Doesn’t Return Voluntarily, the DA Says, & She Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison if Convicted
Inyoung You could be extradited to the U.S. if she does not return to Massachusetts and surrender voluntarily to authorities, according to prosecutors. But Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she is “cautiously optimistic” that You will return on her own.
“Additional information about the allegations against Ms. You will be provided during her arraignment, which this Office is working with her counsel to coordinate,” Rollins said.
She said, “There are any number of ways that we could try and extradite her back from Korea. There are also ways that we could look at possible Interpol red notices. But we are fully fluent of the ways we can get her back if she doesn’t want to voluntarily. We are hopeful, but cautiously optimistic, that she will return on her own, but we are moving forward with this case.”
Involuntary manslaughter is a felony and carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in state prison, according to Massachusetts law.
The case has drawn comparisons to the Michelle Carter case, which also occurred in Massachusetts. She was accused of encouraging her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy, to kill himself when she was 17, in July 2014. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Carter, now 22, was found guilty by Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz and sentenced to 15 months in prison. She is currently serving that sentence and is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020.
Carter appealed her conviction to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, but her appeal was denied. Her lawyers have petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court asking for it to be considered on First Amendment and Fifth Amendment grounds.
Carter sent text messages to Roy as he attempted suicide, pushing him to kill himself, according to prosecutors. The case was the subject of an HBO documentary “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter,” in 2019.
The Massachusetts legislature is currently considering “Conrad’s Law,” a bill that would criminalize suicide coercion in the state, according to Boston.com.
Rollins mentioned that possible law and added, “Of course we’re aware of the Carter decision, this a distinct fact pattern, there are similarities that the culriprits are both the girlfriends in those circumstances. 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. We have, quite frankly, I would say the opposite of that. We have a barrage of a complete and utter attack on this man’s very will and consience and psyche by an individual to the tune of 47,000 text messages in the two months leading up and an awareness, we would argue, of his frail state at that point.”