Lindsay Souvannarath grew up in a nice Geneva neighborhood, graduated from college last year with a double major in English and creative writing, and had a story published in the school's nationally known literary magazine.
But police say the 23-year-old plotted to commit mass murder at a Canadian mall on Valentine's Day with men she befriended online.
Souvannarath will appear in court today to face charges of conspiring to commit murder. Police say she flew to Canada Friday to help the men carry out the mass killing and then they intended to kill themselves. Souvannarath even scheduled to send some tweets posthumously, police said. She has reportedly confessed to her role in the plot.
Souvannarath was arrested after arriving at the Halifax airport at 2 a.m. Friday, along with the man who was picking her up, Nova Scotia resident Randall Shepherd, 20. He also was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
A third man believed to be in on the plan, a 19-year-old man from Nova Scotia, was found dead in the home where he lived with his parents after police surrounded the house. Police seized three long-barreled rifles from his home, according to reports.
According to a report in Halifax's Chronicle Herald, the suspects first met several years ago on the online social chat group Random Insanity, which is part of the video game website GameFAQs.
Lindsay Souvannarath was in Geneva High School's Role Playing Games club for at least two years, as well as being in a school play one year, according to yearbook photos.
She enrolled at Coe College, a small liberal arts school in Iowa, in fall 2010. She graduated in 2014 with a bachelor of arts degree, according to school officials.
A short story by Souvannarath was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the school's literary magazine, the Coe Review, called "My Pet Skeleton," about strange-acting skeletons that we all have inside of us.
One of her former professors, Charles Aukema, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette Souvannarath was a talented writer but occasionally drifted into "forbidden territory" in her work.
He described her writing about a young boy obsessed with death who sought out dying people in order to converse with Death himself.
Aukema also told the paper Souvannarath was quiet and didn't participate much in class.
Former neighbor Eva Schooley described the Souvannarath family to The Associated Press as "very nice people" who participated in frequent block parties, Easter egg hunts and Halloween parties.
"My granddaughters ran around with Lindsay," Schooley said. "Lindsay was a little strange. She liked to dress in black, the whole gothic style."
The investigation began after Crime Stoppers in Canada received an anonymous tip, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Geneva Police executed a search warrant at the Souvannarath home Friday and confiscated several items, but declined to say what was taken.