Back in 2008, Russell Frantom was considered a threat to society. Almost eight years after his arrest for plans to carry out a Columbine-style mass shooting at his school in Indiana, he calls himself an artist and is speaking out to explain how some youth follow a dark path.
"I think I honestly was hoping to be caught," Frantom told NBC Chicago. "If I hadn't been caught, I am not sure what would have happened."
Authorities said Frantom, who had been a 16-year-old freshman at Penn High School near South Bend, spearheaded a Myspace page full of sympathizers of the Columbine shooters, according to NBC affiliate WDNU. It was through the page that he met a 33-year-old man from Lakewood, Ohio. The two plotted attacks at the school and in Ohio, selecting Sept. 11, 2008 as their doomsday.
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In April, police executed a search warrant at Frantom’s uncle’s house and searched the teen's room, according to WDNU. In it, authorities found a life-size statue of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer, multiple knives, swords, Chuckie dolls and red paint smeared in his closet.
A search of his computer revealed four photos of bombs, 74 pictures related to Columbine, and 44 images that appeared to have been taken in Penn High School, WDNU reported.
Frantom served around nine months in juvenile detention over the incident, but he says today he is no longer the boy who made the threats: "I incorporate my past in my paintings. That's where that boy lives if anywhere."
Despite how grim his past is, Frantom is anything but shy about discussing it.
"I am perfectly open to the idea of talking about my past, because I feel that it could potentially be useful dialogue in solving some of the mysteries of why people become involved in things like this," Frantom told NBC Chicago. "It's easy for me to talk about, because I am not talking about me, the person that I am today. I am talking about someone else."
Frantom, now 24, is a visual artist whose paintings are primarily multicolor, melancholy profiles of people and animals. His works have been shown in galleries across the nation, and he currently has an exhibit in South Bend.
"I paint mostly profiles because to me, everything I do are portraits of myself. I consider myself an expressionist, and self portraits are what I want to create," Frantom said.
It's also worth mentioning he's isn't the only person from the town whose brush with the law made headlines across the nation. Convicted murderer "club kid" Michael Alig, also an alum of Penn High School, served 17 years in prison for killing his roommate over a drug debt. He was also the subject of the 2003 film "Party Monster," which starred Macaulay Culkin as Alig (it's also worth mentioning that Frantom and Alig are friends).
Frantom says he has received death threats in the past, but generally feels accepted in the community.
"I am very active in the arts community here, and over a period of years I have been able to show people my true self through art," Frantom said. "I am kind to everyone I meet, and yes there are always some people who will look down upon me, and I can't say that I blame them. But more so I have support here."