Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, a former professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UC Irvine, pleaded guilty last week to nine separate charges of arson.
After his son’s death, Reinscheid wrote several emails, called “alarming” by the District Attorney’s office, some of which were sent to his wife. The emails, retrieved from his cell phone following his arrest, discuss the former professor’s plans for arson, as well as several nonspecific threats involving firearms. One email read: “I will find this vice-principal and find out where he lives, then I will wait for him and kill him.”
While the emails alone did not bring any new charges, they were enough to keep Reinscheid in custody. It is unclear exactly the relationship between Reinscheid and the vice principal in question, and the vice principal was unavailable for comment at the time of Reinscheid’s arrest.
The former professor’s defense described the emails as “therapeutic,” a way of dealing with the tragedy of his son’s death, rather than an actual framework for committing future crimes. Despite earlier speculation, Reinscheid, who holds a Ph.D in invertebrate neurobiology, did not plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 1, where Reinscheid faces a maximum of 18 years for the nine fires, one of which was set at the school administrator’s residence.