The Orange County District Attorney's Office announced today it will file an additional arson charge against Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, the UC Irvine professor accused of setting several fires and writing threatening emails against students and high school administrators in the wake of his possibly bullied 14-year-old son's suicide. Held without bail because of the alleged threats, the 49-year-old Irvine resident is scheduled to be arraigned on the amended complaint Thursday in Newport Beach.
The German national and associate professor in UCI's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, who has joint appointments with the schools of Medicine and Biological Sciences, pleaded not guilty at his previous arraignment hearing in August.
Irvine Police and the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) have continued to investigate a series of arson fires that Reinscheid is suspected of setting. Based on the amended charges, eight arson fires and one attempted arson fire are now blamed on the researcher. He is now to face one additional felony count of arson of a structure with sentencing enhancements for the use of an accelerant. He's already on the hook for three felony counts of arson of forestlands, two felony counts of arson of another's property, two felony counts of arson of a structure, one felony count of arson of an inhabited residence, one felony count of attempted arson, and one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer, and a sentencing enhancement for the use of an accelerant.
Conviction on all the counts, including those in the amended complaint, could send Reinscheid to state prison for 24 years and four months, according to the OCDA.
The professor's son was disciplined at Irvine's University High School in March 2012 before committing suicide in the nearby Mason Park Preserve. His father is accused of beginning to exact his revenge between the Fourth of July and July 24, 2012, when he was arrested while allegedly trying to start a fire with newspaper and lighter fluid at Mason Park. He is accused of having succeeded in setting arson fires before his arrest by lighting newspapers, fireplace logs, brush and vegetation, a book, and a plastic porch chair" at Uni High, Mason Park and the home of an assistant principal at the school.
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When he was first confronted by cops, Reinscheid allegedly refused to comply and tried unsuccessfully to resist his arrest, according to the OCDA, which said at the time the professor later that same day posted $50,000 bail and was released from custody. But the investigation continued, uncovering the emails that prosecutor Andrew Katz convinced a judge warrants no bail for the defendant.
Reinscheid's attorney has characterized the emails, which were never sent to anyone he blamed for his son's death, as journals to express grief. In them, the suspect is claimed to have detailed plans to burn down Uni High, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and murder school officials and students, and then kill himself.
Before Reinscheid was dragged back to court because of the emails, investigators had also discovered other fires that they linked to the grieving father.