Grieving Mother Asks Court To Block Handout Of $75,000 To Siblings Of Estranged Husband Who Killed Two Sons
Investigators say Paul Reinhart was so upset over the loss of his job and pending divorce that he fatally shot the couple’s sons on May 4 before setting fire to the family’s vacation home near Suwannee and fatally shooting himself.
The mother of two boys killed by her estranged husband is asking a Florida judge to block handing over $75,000 of his wealth to his sister and brothers – including one who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for an unrelated murder.
Minde Reinhart, 42, of Gainesville, signaled in a newly disclosed letter from her law firm to the coroner’s office that she expected a legal battle — one that is still unfolding — over what was left of the estate of her dead husband, Paul Reinhart, 46.
Details emerging from that courtroom fight already are changing what is known about events in the days leading to the crime: Reinhart updated his will on April 19, just 15 days before he killed his sons and himself, according to court records. And in a new charge, Mrs. Reinhart’s lawyers said in court records that based on Reinhart’s actions in the days before he died, one of her brothers-in-law knew or should have known that her husband was plotting violence.
Reinhart was a former medical device sales executive who investigators said was so upset over the loss of his job and pending divorce that he fatally shot the couple’s sons on May 4 before setting fire to the family’s vacation home near Suwannee in western Florida and fatally shooting himself. A final report covering the criminal investigation by two sheriff’s offices and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in the case is expected to be made public next week.
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Court records show Reinhart updated his will to remove Mrs. Reinhart from receiving any of his assets after 19 years of marriage: “I have intentionally made no provision in this will for my wife,” he wrote.
Reinhart generally awarded his wealth to “my descendents who survive me” and otherwise “to my brothers and sisters.” In the will, he identified Rex, 14, and Brody, 11, as his children.
Mrs. Reinhart declined to talk about the case. One of her lawyers, Jeff Aaron, also declined to discuss the matter.
The newly disclosed letter came from Mayanne Downs, general counsel, president and managing director of the Gray-Robinson law firm in Orlando. She said that, “in anticipation of potential litigation” over Reinhart’s estate, the law firm was asking the medical examiner’s office to preserve blood and tissue samples and other evidence taken from the bodies of Reinhart and his sons.
The medical examiner’s office disclosed the correspondence Thursday in response to a public records request. The law firm also requested copies of the autopsy reports for Reinhart and his sons, which were released earlier this week, and names of anyone else who also requested copies of the autopsies.
“Ms. Reinhart has no desire to see the autopsy reports,” Downs wrote.
One day after the letter from Downs, Mrs. Reinhart’s lawyers filed a formal objection in Alachua County Circuit Court to a pending request by one of Reinhart’s brothers, Konrad Reinhart, that the estate be divided among Reinhart’s five siblings and Mrs. Reinhart. Konrad Reinhart’s lawyer estimated the estate’s value at $75,000 in personal property. He did not list any bank accounts, investments or other assets.
Her lawyers asked the judge to move the case to probate and appoint an independent person to oversee handing out Reinhart's assets. They said they expected “multiple claims will be brought and litigated” in the case, indicating a lengthy courtroom dispute.
Konrad Reinhart’s request listed himself, a sister and three brothers as beneficiaries before also including Mrs. Reinhart in the court papers. His lawyer included on the list Erick Von Reinhart, 50, who pleaded guilty in an unrelated crime to fatally stabbing his own ex-wife’s new boyfriend – just one week after their divorce – then trying to take his own life with a large kitchen knife.
Erick Reinhart is serving a 40-year murder sentence in a Florida prison and could be released as early as July 2053. A judge denied his latest appeal in his criminal case less than two weeks ago.
Reached at home by phone, Konrad Reinhart declined to discuss the matter and twice hung up on a reporter. “If you call this number again it's going to be a big problem,” he said. “Stop calling me."
Through his lawyer, Konrad Reinhart asked to be officially appointed the estate’s representative, saying “no person has equal or higher preference” to be put in charge of distributing his brother’s remaining wealth.
Citing no specific evidence except her “information and belief,” Mrs. Reinhart’s lawyers told the judge that Konrad Reinhart began receiving unspecified assets from his brother shortly before the killings or as a result of Reinhart’s suicide.
“He knew or should have known of the decedent’s state of mind, including that the decedent might hurt himself or others, which is exactly what happened,” her lawyers wrote.
They said Konrad Reinhart should be forced to return whatever assets he already has received, and asked the judge to block him from being appointed the estate’s representative.
Konrad Reinhart’s lawyer, Richard Withers, declined to discuss the case.
The probate case was reassigned last week to Circuit Judge Gloria R. Walker.
Mrs. Reinhart was in the process of selling the home in Gainesville where her estranged husband had been living with his sons at the time of their deaths, according to real estate records. A sale on the $1.8 million home, where property records cite her as the sole legal owner, was listed as pending.
It was not clear whether any profits from that sale will be disputed in the court fight with Reinhart’s siblings. The property deed and a $900,000 30-year mortgage borrowed in 2008 previously listed both Paul and Minde Reinhart's names, but Reinhart's name was removed as owner after his death, according to county records.
This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporters can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org