UCI Professor Charged With Arson

Courtesy of Associated Press

After posting bail in regards to an attempted arson charge early last week, emails from UC Irvine associate professor of pharmacology Rainer Klaus Reinscheid surfaced last Friday, July 31, bringing his planned killings to light.

At an arraignment last Tuesday that will continue until Aug. 8, Superior Court Judge Craig Griffin ordered Reinscheid be held without bail after prosecutors proved that the emails found on the suspect’s phone gave indication that he posed a threat to the community.

The emails found by the Irvine Police Department were sent to the wife of the defendant. They reportedly detail Reinscheid’s plans for burning down University High School, committing sexual assaults, purchasing firearms and killing unnamed students, specific school officials and himself. Because the threats were not sent to the parties he named, however, Reinscheid does not face charges for the graphic emails or plotting the murders.

In March, Reinscheid’s son — a UHS freshman — was given trash pick-up duties after he was reportedly caught stealing from the student store. Later that same month, Reinscheid’s son committed suicide in the Mason Park Preserve by hanging himself.

Following the disciplinary acts set forth by the school and the suicide of his son, Reinscheid committed a series of arsons from July 4 to July 24. Law enforcement officials speculated that the fires were driven by “the feelings of anger that he had over the treatment of his son, which he believed led to his son killing himself,” Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said.

Reinscheid is accused of setting fires to various objects, including newspapers, fireplace logs, brush and vegetation, a book and a plastic porch chair. All the fires were set late at night or early morning, stayed relatively small and caused minor damage, prosecutors said.

“Based on the location and nature of the arsons, we believe the defendant was specifically targeting the people and places he believed were related to his son’s discipline,” District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said.

One assistant principal at UHS, whose identity has not been released, was singled out by Reinscheid. While this assistant principal went on vacation, Reinscheid set fire to his home.

Reinscheid, who holds joint appointments in the School of Biological Sciences and the UCI Medical School, is charged with two felony counts of arson of another’s property; two counts of arson of a structure; one count of arson of an inhabited residence; one count of attempted arson; and one misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Reinscheid faces a maximum sentence of 12 years and eight months in state prison.

According to his lab’s mission statement, Reinscheid’s research focused on “G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) — the biggest gene family in the human genome — which represent the most successful drug targets of modern pharmaceuticals. The lab is studying GPCRs involved in stress, emotional behavior, sleep-wakefulness and memory functions.”