Orange County District Attorney Press Release
For Immediate Release, Case # 12HF2145: August 22, 2013
*Defendant drafted e-mails detailing plan to murder students and administrators
SANTA ANA – A 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 sentenced today to 14 years and four months in state prison for committing a series of arsons at the high school, a home, and park. Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, 49, Irvine, pleaded guilty to a court offer July 9, 2013, 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 scheduled for a restitution hearing Nov. 15, 2013, at 1:45 p.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
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.
During the sentencing, several people spoke before the Court including faculty members and representatives from the Irvine Unified School District and members from the Parent-Teacher-Student Association. One victim described the arson happening outside his home just 30 minutes after turning off the lights. He expressed his fears that persist to this day and stated that his sense of safety has been shattered.
IPD investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff