Clements earned widespread recognition not only for prison reforms but also for a crackdown on gangs.
According to Frey, Ebel's behavior, even as a teenager, suggested he was interested in white supremacy.
"He was very proud of his Sicilian heritage, and he always talked about wanting to kill so many people that he'd make Hitler jealous," Frey told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
"He really was racist, but at the same time he did hang around with African-Americans at the camp, so it was very contradictory."
'We know a different person'
A more nuanced picture of Ebel likewise emerges from his mother's accounts.
Mangue writes about her children on a blog she originally started in memory of her 16-year-old daughter, who died in a car accident in 2004.
The site is now also dedicated to the memory of her son.
According to Mangue, Ebel's life took a sharp turn after his sister's death.
"Evan drifted into a dark period, he was struggling prior, but that event threw him over the edge, they were three years apart. He was the protective big brother and in this case, was unable to protect her," she wrote.
"His life deteriorated after that and he just became numb and lost his direction altogether, between using drugs and committing crimes, he was soon put in prison for 8 long years."
Mangue and Ebel's father kept in close contact, sending letters, cards and visiting their son when they could.
He got in shape in prison, became an avid reader and an advocate against using substances, she said.
Mangue wrote about the bright moments of her son's childhood.
Ebel was a funny boy, full of spunk and energy, she recalled. He wasn't afraid of anyone and loved animals.
Once, after a sleepover at a friend's house, he brought home a small gray kitten named Sparkles. The family kept her for 15 years.
"So even though, he is depicted as depraved, evil, we know a different person who was loving, kind, thoughtful, generous and sensitive to many in his family and to his friends," Mangue wrote.
"As determined the media is in trying to pick apart our son, Evan for a good story, they will never succeed, he is out of their reach. He is not imprisoned anymore, his suffering has ended."
Anger at authority
Ebel was released from prison in January, after serving seven years -- three for felony menacing, robbery and assault, another four for assaulting a guard.
It was his second stretch in prison, after doing one year of a three-year term for felony armed robbery.
According to his mother and Gov. Hickenlooper, Ebel was in solitary confinement for much of his sentence. He was deemed too great a risk to be put with other inmates.
Similarly, he spent time in isolation at the boot camp in Samoa.
That time was hard for Ebel, Frey said, and it may have made things worse.
"He had a lot of anger towards authority. He never liked being told what to do and his time in isolation really only compacted that," Frey said.