Jul 29, 2014

New Arson Charge Against UCI Prof

Rainer Reinscheid allegedly set fires at a school, park and home after his son committed suicide. Prosecutors say he plotted to murder hundreds of students.

New Arson Charge Against UCI Prof New Arson Charge Against UCI Prof New Arson Charge Against UCI Prof

The arson charges keep piling up for UCI professor Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, who allegedly set a series of fires at an Irvine high school, park and school official's home last year.

On Thursday, prosecutors plan to file a new arson charge against Reinscheid, who is being held without bail after Irvine police discovered emails allegedly detailing plans to murder students and administrators at University High School to avenge his teenage son's suicide.

Last summer, the 49-year-old professor pleaded not guilty to multiple arson-related felony counts. (No formal allegations have been filed in connection with his alleged murder plot.) If convicted, he faces a maximum 24 years and four months in state prison.

Reinscheid’s 14-year-old son, who attended University High School in Irvine, was disciplined at school in March for a minor theft-related incident. The next day, the boy committed suicide in Mason Park Preserve in Irvine.

Between July 4 and 24, Reinscheid is accused of setting nine fires at the high school, Mason Park Preserve and a school administrator's home by lighting various objects on fire, including newspapers, brush, a book and a plastic porch chair. He allegedly used fireplace logs in some cases.

At approximately 12:40 a.m. on July 24, Reinscheid allegedly tried to set a fire in Mason Park Preserve using newspaper and lighter fluid. Irvine police, who were conducting increased patrols of the park because of other fires, spotted Reinscheid and arrested him near the scene. He allegedly resisted arrest. Reinscheid posted $50,000 bail and was released from custody that day.

On July 27, detectives discovered emails on his cell phone allegedly describing his plan to burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms, murder school officials and students, and then kill himself.

Reinscheid's attorney, Ron Cordova, maintains the emails were simply a way to vent, not serious plans for mayhem.

"It wasn't a plan or a blueprint of conduct, but simply the musings of a very anguished soul, a man who lost his soul and released his anger by writing down these ideations that, unfortunately, all human beings are capable of writing down in moments of anguish," Cordova said earlier.

"In fact, it's quite therapeutic to release worse thoughts rather than to let them fester and cause great havoc," Cordova added. "If we kept everything inside we'd be tortured and tortured individuals do things people otherwise might not do."

Cordova said the fires were "ineffectual at best," especially when a fire log was used. He said fire logs "are designed for a particular purpose, to confine it to a small perimeter," adding that trying to cause a widespread blaze with a fire log would be "like attempting mass murder with a BB gun."

After the discovery of Reinscheid's emails and alleged ties to additional arson cases, he was rearrested on the evening of July 27. At his July 31 arraignment on the additional arson charges, prosecutors successfully requested he be held without bail based on concerns he posed a serious threat to the community if released.

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