[UPDATED with Judge Denying Bail:] Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, UCI Professor, Held for Fires and Threats of Murders and Sex Crimes
See Update No. 3 on judge denying bail for Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, his arraignment being delayed and other details.
See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on the University High School infraction that apparently led to the suicide of the UCI professor's son and the charges pending against the academic.
See Update No. 1 at the end of this post on University High School's statement on today's arraignment.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 31, 2:53 P.M.: UC Irvine professor Rainer Klaus Reinscheid received a $60,000 Young Investigator's Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression to study "[a] novel neuropeptide system in limbic thalamocortical structures and its role in schizophrenia." But it's what is going on inside the mind of the 48-year-old that concerns local law enforcement, which wants Reinscheid held without bail for allegedly committing a series of arsons, writing e-mails threatening to murder high school students and administrators and posing "a serious threat to the community if released from custody."
You've got to wonder what the hell is going on with bright, successful parents in milquetoast Irvine. Husband and wife attorneys Kent and Jill Easter were recently charged with planting a bag containing Vicodin, Percocet, marijuana and a used pot pipe in the vehicle of a volunteer at their kid's Irvine elementary school. Upset with the woman's supervision of their boy, the couple's alleged weak-sauce plot to get her prosecuted--after their suit against the volunteer was tossed by a judge in 2010--came apart, and they are now looking at possible prison time.
Of course, the stakes a much higher in the case of Reinscheid--all around--as the professor's undoing is blamed on his 14-year-old son being disciplined at Irvine's University High School in March and then committing suicide in the nearby Mason Park Preserve.
Reinscheid is accused of beginning to exact his revenge between the Fourth of July just past and early last Tuesday, July 24, when he was arrested.
During that span, he allegedly committed five arsons and one attempted arson "by lighting various objects on fire including newspapers, fireplace logs, brush and vegetation, a book, and a plastic porch chair" at Uni High, Mason Park Preserve and at a school administrator's home, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
Various media accounts say it was the home of the principal. Note: A district official says below it was an assistant principal's home.
Around 12:40 a.m. on July 24, Reinscheid is accused of trying to start a fire in Mason Park Preserve using newspaper and lighter fluid, but what he did not know was Irvine Police officers had increased park patrols due to the recent arsons. Confronted by cops, Reinscheid allegedly refused to comply and tried unsuccessfully to resist his arrest, according to the OCDA, which notes the professor later that day posted $50,000 bail and was released from custody.
Detectives on Friday discovering e-mails on Reinscheid's cell phone from April, when he allegedly discussed with his wife plans to burn down Uni High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and murder school officials and students before killing himself. Based on the death-wish messages, as well as discussion of previous arsons he had not yet been charged with, Reinscheid was re-arrested Friday evening.
"The OCDA believes Reinscheid poses a serious threat to the community if released from custody, and will argue to have him held without bail in light of the dangerous, violent nature of his private e-mails," reads prosecutors' arraignment statement. "Law enforcement believes Reinscheid acted alone and he is the only defendant and suspect in this case. The high school and school district have been notified of this case."
The professor is currently charged with 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.
Scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon, Reinscheid faces up to 12 years and eight months in state prison with a conviction. Meanwhile, the OCDA's Special Investigations hotline is set up to receive additional tips to help the investigation and prosecution at 714.347.8544.
According to his UCI bio, Reinscheid is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, and he has joint appointments in pharmacology with the School of Medicine and molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences. He received his doctorate in 1993 from the Center for Molecular Neurobiology in Hamburg, Germany.
In addition to schizophrenia, he has led or participated in widely published research into stress, emotional behavior, sleep and wakefulness, memory functions and colon cancer. His UCI bio states some of Reinscheid's current work is partly funded by National Institute of Mental Health grants.
A statement from UCI, where Reinscheid remains on staff at this hour, is pending.
Author's note: The UCI statement can be found within this post: Was the Son of Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, UCI Professor Held for Threats and Arsons, Bullied?
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 31, 3:12 P.M.: The following statement was just posted on University High School's NewsFlash page:
Earlier today, the Orange County District Attorney's Office arraigned a suspect accused of committing several acts of arson, including two on the campus of University High School. According to the D.A.'s Office, a subsequent investigation yielded a number of emails that outlined the suspect's plans to potentially harm students and staff members.
In response, Superintendent Terry Walker has issued the following statement:
"These are extremely disturbing allegations, particularly as they involve the potential safety of both students and employees.
"We are certainly grateful to the Irvine Police Department for the diligent efforts that led to last week's arrest, and we will assist with the ongoing investigation in any way we can. We also intend to work closely with local authorities to ensure all measures are taken to protect students and staff. That is our No. 1 priority.
"As troubling as these charges are, we are reassured that law enforcement officials believe he acted alone and that he is currently behind bars. Based on the severity of the threats made, the District Attorney's Office will also argue to have the suspect held without bail. We have confidence in our legal system to handle this case appropriately."
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 31, 4:14 P.M.: Irvine Unified School District spokesman Ian Hanigan, who posted the statement above on the Uni High website, reportedly confirmed an assistant principal he would not name disciplined the son of UCI professor Rainer Reinscheid days before the youth took his own life.
For stealing from a parent-run student store, Reinscheid's 14-year-old son was given trash-pickup duty, Hanigan tells the Orange County Register, characterizing the crime and punishment as relatively minor.
While school and district officials knew the elder Reinscheid was "extremely distraught" over the loss of his son, the man did not openly threaten or act aggressively toward district employees, added Hanigan.
No one connected the professor to recent arsons on campus until learning of Reinscheid's arrest, the spokesman claimed.
UPDATE NO. 3, JULY 31, 6:18 P.M.: Citing the e-mails where Reinscheid allegedly threatened to kill and sexually assault others, burn down University High School and then commit suicide, Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Griffin this afternoon denied bail for the UCI professor.
But Reinscheid did not enter a plea as the arraignment hearing was continued to Aug. 8.
Meanwhile, university records indicate Reinscheid has been employed at the Irvine campus for 10 years, earning $87,016 in 2010.
His son reportedly hanged himself at Mason Park Preserve. (Author's note: The original suicide report pinpoints the spot as a wooded area behind an apartment complex with a trial connecting to Mason Park.)
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.