Mom saw warning signs in son who planned shooting spree
- By Scott Zamost and Abbie Boudreau
CNN Special Investigations Unit
GREENCREEK, Idaho (CNN) -- It was just 2½ years ago when Elaine Sonnen found out that her 16-year-old son, Richard, had been planning a Columbine-style attack at his high school.
Richard Sonnen spent 16 months in mental health institutions after plotting to kill his high school classmates.
"I always wanted to get back at them," Sonnen said of his classmates. "I always wanted to strangle them ...I was always mad. I was always angry and I would come home and cry to mom and dad."
Both Richard and Elaine Sonnen spoke to CNN at the 45-acre family farm.
Unlike the Columbine killers and recent school shootings at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech -- Elaine Sonnen did see the warning signs in her son and was able to stop him.
Elaine and her husband, Tom, adopted Richard from a Bulgarian orphanage when he was just 4 ½ years old.
"I mean, we just loved him, and he was just a big sparkle of life," she said.
But only a few months after they brought him home - they began to see another side of their son. He was angry and unpredictable.
Elaine Sonnen says at age 6, Richard told her he wanted to kill her. She said he would shake with anger to the point that he'd scream at her - telling her he wanted to destroy her.
"People thought he was just the greatest kid in the world. Very polite, well-mannered, caring," remembers Elaine Sonnen. "At home, he could be anywhere from just a really helpful kid to a monster. A terrifying monster." Mothers says son had 'two' personalities »