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Killing of Westside chiropractor leaves family stunned

June 1, 2012 |  7:00 pm

Robert Rainey lived his life large.

He was the type of man, who, after growing enamored with Venice, Italy, on a trip, made sure to go back -- five times. And while a jog suffices for most, extreme endurance running was Rainey’s ticket. He couldn’t fathom why someone would want to gaze up at Mt. Kilimanjaro when hiking to its summit at a lung-bursting pace was an option. His voice boomed. His appetite, among friends, was legendary.

But there was also gentle side to the 54-year-old chiropractor that said as much about the man and added to the sense of loss friends and family members felt following his killing this week. To the homeless who lived on the streets around his chiropractic practice, he was the guy who would slip some money into a waiting hand or hire them for odd jobs. Patients who couldn’t afford to pay still got treatment. His young nieces and nephews knew to scan the audience at recitals and games for their uncle’s big, unabashed smile.

“He had a kind heart,” said his brother Jim Rainey, a staff writer at The Times. “He wanted to believe the best about the world and the people around him.”

Rainey was discovered on the floor of his office lobby early Thursday morning by his first patient of the day. His head had been bludgeoned. Homicide detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department declined to provide details but surmised Rainey’s killer may have stalked him as he walked up to his office on the second floor of the small retail complex on Venice Boulevard and surprised him from behind. They suspect robbery was the motive but emphasized that the investigation was ongoing. No suspects have been identified, police said.

Raised in Santa Monica, he was one of three kids and the son of Ford Rainey, a well-known character actor in television and films. After college at Humboldt State, Rainey returned to Los Angeles and pursued a chiropractic practice. He felt strongly about his work, family said, and had treated a loyal following of patients in his office on Venice Boulevard for 15 years.

Although the area around his office has its share of robberies and break-ins, there would have been little reason to fear such a violent attack. Since 2007, there have been only four homicides within a mile of Rainey’s office, according to a Times analysis of police records.

After his wife, Peg, Rainey’s second love was long-distance running. This weekend was supposed to be a 33-mile canyon run with friends from his running club. And he showed no signs of slowing down. After his father died two weeks shy of his 97th birthday, Rainey announced he was determined to live longer.

At first he said he was shooting for 100, then upped it to 105. Recently, he told some friends that 110 seemed reasonable.

Crime in Palms over the last six months:

Violent crimes (48)
Property crimes (425)

--Joel Rubin