Aug 01, 2012 04:49 AM EDT
UC-Irvine Professor Denied Bail in Arson Case
A University of California professor has been denied bail Tuesday after prosecutors charged him with setting five arson fires. The professor's son allegedly committed suicide after being disciplined at school.
Rainer Reinscheid, 48, an associate professor of pharmaceuticals at the University of California, Irvine, is charged with arson, three of them at University High School in Irvine, one at an assistant principal's home and one at a park, where his teenage son killed himself in the spring.
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Superior Court Judge Craig Griffin ordered Reinscheid held without bail after prosecutors said he posed a threat to the community based on some e-mails. After Reinscheid's arrest last week, authorities found the emails on his cellphone describing a plot to burn down the high school, commit sexual assaults and purchase weapons to murder school officials and students before killing himself, said Orange County district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
In March, Reinscheid's 14-year-old son, who attended University High, was given trash pick-up duties after he was caught stealing an item from University High's parent-run student store. Later that month, the boy committed suicide in Mason Park Preserve in Irvine, reports Orange County Register News.
Hanigan described Reinscheid as 'extremely distraught' over the loss of his son, but said Reinscheid did not threaten or behave aggressively toward University High staff in the wake of his son's suicide. In fact, school officials did not connect Reinscheid to the arson fire at the University High administrator's home until after Reinscheid's arrest, Hanigan said.
But law enforcement authorities say Reinscheid's acts appear to be driven by the discipline and suicide.
"(The fires) appear directly related to 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 at a news conference following the arraignment.
Reinscheid holds joint appointments to UCI's biological sciences department and medical school, according to his biography posted on the university's website.
His research interests included psychiatric disorders, and his UCI lab was studying molecules involved in stress, emotional behavior, memory, and sleep and wakefulness. He was a co-author on at least 24 published research papers.
He reportedly earned his Ph.D. in the neurobiology of invertebrates in Hamburg, Germany in 1993, according to his biography.
At the hearing Tuesday, the judge postponed his arraignment until Aug. 8. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years and eight months in state prison.