In a shocking display of what unbearable grief can drive a person to do, a father has been arrested for allegedly plotting to murder students and administrators at his deceased son's high school.
Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, a 48-year old professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), began his alleged crimes in March after his 14-year-old son was disciplined at school, KTLA reports. The teen, who attended University High School in Irvine, later hanged himself in Mason Park Preserve.
When the Orange County Register reported on the suicide, several readers commented that they knew the teen and that he had been bullied. However, the Irvine police said they did not find any evidence of bullying.
Reinscheid allegedly started five fires at his son's high school, at the home of an assistant principal from the high school and at the Mason Park Preserve. Between July 4 and July 24, Reinscheid is accused of setting newspapers, fireplace logs, brush and vegetation, a book, and a plastic porch chair on fire.
Reinscheid, who taught at UCI for 12 years, was first arrested on July 24 at around 1 a.m. in the park where his son died. Officers had seen him allegedly trying to set a blaze with newspaper and lighter fluid, CBS reports. The father posted $50,000 bail the same day and was released.
However, Irvine police detectives Friday found emails on Reinscheid's cellphone to his wife and one to himself in April and re-arrested him that evening, the OC Register reports. The emails explained in graphic detail his plan to burn down University High School, buy guns, murder school officials and students, commit sexual assaults and eventually kill himself.
When asked if he was working alone or targeting a certain group of people, Orange County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said to the Associated Press, "I can only at this point tell you, he laid out in sufficient detail plans to purchase guns and murder lots of people."
Reinscheid was working as an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UCI, with joint appointments to the university's biological sciences department and medical school, according to his UCI bio page. His research topics included psychiatric disorders, stress, emotional behavior, sleep and wakefulness and memory functions.
In 2008, the professor co-authored a study identifying the brain mechanism that switches off traumatic feelings associated with bad memories. The study sought to discover a drug to treat individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress or other panic disorders.
He is expected to appear in court Tuesday and faces one count of attempted arson, five counts of arson and a misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing a police officer, according to the Associated Press. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years and eight months in state prison.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have had suspicious contact with the defendant is asked to leave a message on the DA’s special investigations hotline at (714) 347-8544.Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.