UC Irvine professor apologizes for arson fires


It was a packed courtroom of supporters of Rainer Klaus Reinscheid and others who say they still fear him. Reinscheid listened as one of the victims told the court how the 49-year-old professor terrorized his family.

Reinscheid pleaded guilty last month to setting a series of fires between July 4 and July 24 of last year at University High School in Irvine, the administrator's home and at the park where his 14-year-old son hanged himself after being disciplined for allegedly stealing from the school.

Emails seized from his account addressed to himself and his wife outlined a graphic plan to attack the school campus and burn down the school before killing himself. No charges were filed in connection with the emails, but one of his victims, the assistant principal at University High School, said his life will never be the same after Reinscheid set three separate fires at the victim's house last year.

"The first fire you lit occurred less than a half hour after we turned off the lights and went to bed. Clearly, he was lying in wait," said the victim, identified only as Michael G. "And what was his next act? To smoke us out of the house so that he could kill me in front of my family as his writings threatened? Or was it to attempt to blow up my car working with the knowledge he searched for on the Internet? These are the visions and worries that continue to fill my head as I think about the danger the defendant continues to pose."

The prosecutor said Reinscheid was motivated by revenge and that he is as dangerous today as he was the day he was arrested.

But his attorney and his supporters say Reinscheid was not in his right mind after his son's suicide. Reinscheid's wife, who also spoke in court, said the emails expressing the violent actions were part of therapy after his son's suicide.

Reinscheid apologized in court to the victims, saying he blames his irrational behavior on grief and frustration following the suicide. He faces up to 18 years in prison in his sentencing.

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