Before the subway assault charges, Frank James had decades of petty crimes

“He made no direct threats,” he said. “James is an intelligent person. But he made very angry comments with a lot of expletives. Creepy stuff.”

“We called the Elizabeth police because some of our people were really scared,” Mr Storch said.

Mr James appeared to be opposed to treatment for mental illness: in several videos he posted to YouTube, he used racial slurs at the workers he said had treated him at another organization, the South Bronx Mental Health Council insults.

Later, in 2007, Mr. James was convicted of disorderly conduct in Hoboken, NJ, and in 2011 he was brought before a Philadelphia court on unpaid credit card debt. Details of the 2007 Hoboken case were not immediately apparent from the court documents.

After that there was a period of relative silence. Although public records indicate that Mr. James spent some time in Chicago, he does not appear to have been arrested there. He was also not arrested in Milwaukee, where he lived in a boarding house south of the city.

It was a rough place. David Lorenz, who was a resident at the same time as Mr James, said it was a haven for people who weren’t lucky and were “trying to keep their noses clean”. Mr Lorenz said it is not uncommon for the home to rent out apartments to people recently released from prison or suffering from drug addiction or mental health problems.

According to his videos and public records, Mr. James resided in Milwaukee until March. After moving out of the boarding house, he rented an apartment nearby, where he again had trouble with his neighbors. Keilah Miller, who lived next door to Mr James, called him a “really odd neighbor” and said he aggressively confronted her after she accidentally left her key in the lock.

Ms Miller said on Tuesday she had not seen Mr James since late March. According to authorities and Mr James’ own posts on social media, by that point he was already making his way back east, where, as he put it in a video, “all my troubles started”.

Tea Kvetenadze, Michael LaForgia and Dan Simmons contributed reporting. Before the subway assault charges, Frank James had decades of petty crimes

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