For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
FORMER UCI PROFESSOR CONVICTED OF SETTING FIRES AT SON’S HIGH SCHOOL, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL’S HOME, AND NEARBY PARK
SANTA ANA – A former professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), who authored e-mails detailing plans to murder students and administrators at an Irvine high school, was convicted today of committing a series of arsons at the high school, a home, and park. Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 49, Irvine, pleaded guilty to a court offer to one felony count of arson of another’s property, three felony counts of arson of forestland, two felony counts of arson of a structure, three felony counts of attempted arson, one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer, and sentencing enhancements for the use of an accelerant. Reinscheid is being held without bail. The defendant faces a sentence ranging from three years up to 18 years in state prison at his sentencing Aug. 1, 2013, in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
At the time of the crime, Reinscheid was a professor at UCI. In March 2012, Reinscheid’s 14-year-old son, who attended University High School in Irvine, was disciplined at school for a minor theft-related incident. The following day, the defendant’s son committed suicide in Mason Park Preserve in Irvine.
Between July 4, 2012, and July 24, 2012, Reinscheid committed six arsons and three attempted arson by lighting various objects on fire including newspapers, brush and vegetation, a book, and a plastic porch chair. He used fireplace logs in some cases as an accelerant. Reinscheid committed these arsons on the campus of University High School, in Mason Park Preserve, and at a school administrator’s home.
At approximately 12:40 a.m. on July 24, 2012, Reinscheid attempted to set a fire in Mason Park Preserve using newspaper and lighter fluid. Officers from the Irvine Police Department (IPD), who were conducting increased patrols of the park due to the recent arsons, observed the defendant and arrested him near the scene. When contacted by officers, Reinscheid refused to comply with their orders to stop and attempted to resist arrest. Reinscheid posted $50,000 bail and was released from custody that day. IPD continued their investigation.
On July 27, 2012, IPD detectives discovered e-mails on the defendant’s cell phone in the course of their investigation. The defendant drafted multiple e-mails in April 2012 describing in detail his plan to burn down University High School, commit sexual assaults, purchase firearms and murder school officials and students, and then kill himself.
Following the discovery of these e-mails and based on the defendant being linked to additional arsons, Reinscheid was re-arrested on the evening of July 27, 2012, by IPD. At his arraignment, the OCDA successfully requested that the defendant be held without bail based on concerns that Reinscheid poses a serious threat to the community if released from custody, as evidenced by the dangerous, violent nature of his private e-mails.