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Professor accused in murder plot: 'Daddy was so sad'

August 2, 2012 |  9:56 am

In emails addressed to his wife, the UC Irvine professor accused of setting fires and plotting mass murder at his son's high school said he was "eaten away by sadness" after the teenager's suicide.

In a pair of emails filed in court late Tuesday by Orange County prosecutors, Rainer Reinscheid depicts graphic plans to use machine guns to kill 200 students at Irvine's University High School and administrators, sexually torture and assault two female staff members, and then kill himself at a nearby park where his 14-year-old son, Claas Stubbe, committed suicide in March.

"I have dreams about going to Uni High and setting the place on fire, burning down every single building, and then killing myself in the same place Claas died," the 48-year-old associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences wrote his wife in April.

The email concludes: "I will give myself a wonderful ending and be with Claas very soon. I like this plan, finally a good idea."

In the second email, Reinscheid requested that his wife pass along "one story" to their remaining children.

"Daddy was so sad when Claas passed away, he was just eaten away by his sadness and stopped breathing," he wrote.

Reinscheid's wife, Wendy Reinscheid, told police her husband had been suffering from deep depression and sadness since his son's death, according to court documents.

Reinscheid was arrested July 24 on charges of trying to use newspaper and lighter fluid to set a fire in Mason Park Preserve, not far from the wooded spot where his son hanged himself. Police had stepped up patrols in the area after a series of fires that prosecutors now believe Reinscheid was responsible for.

The professor posted bail and was released that day. He was re-arrested three days later after police discovered the emails, which prosecutors used to request he be held without bail on arson charges.

Authorities went to his office at UC Irvine on July 27 to serve a search warrant and found Reinscheid  drafting a document giving his wife power of attorney over his children, finances and other possessions, according to court documents. An updated will — signed July 27 — was later found in his car.

Reinscheid had been granted a quarter-long leave of absence from the university beginning July 1, court documents showed, saying he wanted to travel abroad.

Prosecutors and acquaintances say Reinscheid was furious at the high school for how it handled his son's death, which happened after the teenager was disciplined for what school district officials described as a "fairly minor" matter involving a theft from a student store.

There were rumors the teen had been bullied, though Irvine Unified School District spokesman Ian Hanigan said investigators found no evidence to support the claim. Irvine police said they were unable to verify what drove him to suicide.

"There is just a tragic situation for [Reinscheid] and his family," Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen said, but added: "This is such an irrational response…. This is not a normal grieving."

In the emails, Reinscheid apologizes to his wife for his plans.

"Now I will be with Claas and when your time has come, I will also be with you. We will all be together and do a better job," he wrote. "Please don't be angry with me and just try to understand my decision because it all makes sense.... I have to be with Claas because he needs me."


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Video credit: Associated Press