California professor hit with new arson charges tied to son's suicide

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 08, 2012 5:48 PM
California professor hit with new arson charges tied to son's suicide

By Dana Feldman

NEWPORT BEACH, California (Reuters) - A California university professor who prosecutors say wrote lurid emails threatening to go on a shooting rampage at his dead son's school after the 14-year-old boy's suicide had three fresh arson charges levied against him on Wednesday.

Rainer Klaus Reinscheid, who was arrested last month in Irvine after police said they found him trying to set a fire in the park where his son, Claas Stubbe, hanged himself in March, is now charged with eight counts of arson and one count of attempted arson.

Authorities said the emails, discovered after Reinscheid's arrest, described in graphic terms his plans to burn down Stubbe's high school, kill administrators and commit violent sexual assaults before killing himself.

"The emails that the defendant sent to himself and to his wife suggest that he's angry over his son's suicide and that is why he is setting these fires as well as planning to murder school administrators and students," Orange County District Attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami said.

Orange County prosecutors say they have not charged Reinscheid, a 48-year-old associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, Irvine, over the emails because he did not send them to the intended targets.

The accusations against Reinscheid come amid jitters about U.S. gun violence following a shooting rampage in Colorado by a gunman who burst into a midnight screening of the new "Batman" film last month, killing 12 and wounding dozens more.

Reinscheid made a brief court appearance in Orange County Superior Court in Newport Beach on Wednesday, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, but a scheduled arraignment was delayed until next week after the new charges were filed.

He spoke in court only to agree to the postponement.

Prosecutors also amended a motion they had filed asking that Reinscheid be held without bail, saying a search of his computer showed he had conducted Internet searches for guns, gun laws, ammonium fertilizer, ammonia and car explosions.

Reinscheid's attorney declined to comment following the brief hearing.

Stubbe killed himself after he was disciplined by an administrator at University High School for theft from a school store. Emami described the discipline as "relatively minor," involving picking up trash.

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In one of the emails, sent by Reinscheid to his wife, Wendy, on April 26, he wrote that he would kill the vice principal who disciplined his son.

"I will force him to tie a rope around his neck and if he is too coward, I will do it for him, in front of his wife and children," Reinscheid wrote. "I will make him cry and beg but I will not give him a chance, just like he did to Claas."

In an email sent to himself on April 28, Reinscheid wrote that he wanted to get "a dozen machine guns" and kill the vice principal, along with a school counselor and at least 200 students before taking his own life.

(Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and M.D. Golan)