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Depressed dad who killed himself and two sons texted wife before killings

Newly released police and fire reports detailing the double murder-suicide of a depressed Florida father and his two young sons reveal that the man had sent disturbing text messages to his estranged wife just hours before the killings, in which he blamed her for the horrific acts he was about to commit. 

Paul Reinhart, 46, a once-successful executive, is suspected of killing his children, Brody, 11, and Rex, 14, last Tuesday at the family’s waterfront home near Suwannee on Florida’s west coast, 50 miles from Gainesville, before setting it on fire and killing himself. The family's causes of death are still unknown. 

In a tragic twist, the incident eerily echoes the case of Paul's brother, Erick Von Reinhart, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to fatally stabbing his ex-wife’s new boyfriend – just one week after their divorce — then trying to take his own life with a kitchen knife.    

About two hours before Paul and his sons were found dead inside the children's bedroom at the family's burning vacation home, Minde Reinhart, Paul's wife of nearly 20 years who had recently filed for a divorce, received a text message from him that read: 'You should have put your family first. Now it's too late. You're so selfish. You're going to live with this the rest of your life,' reported The Gainesville Sun. 

Minde replied: 'Please don't hurt yourself or the boys. Please come home.' No answer came. 

Paul Reinhart, 46, texted his estranged wife, Minde (pictured together, left), on the morning of May 5, saying: 'You're so selfish. You're going to live with this the rest of your life.' Two hours later, he was found dead along with his two sons, Brody and Rex (pictured right with their parents), inside the family's burning vacation home

The causes of death are still among the many things being investigated in the case. Pictured: a sheriff's vehicle is parked near the Reinharts' property in Gainesville on May 5

By then, Minde had been on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. She had became alarmed when at 5am on May 5, she learned that her husband had published on his Facebook account 64 of their old wedding photos. 

The mother-of-two raced to the family's home in Gainesville, which she shared with her husband and their children until the couple's separation. There, she found some 400 photos from her and Paul's wedding scattered all over the residence, but no sign of her husband, their children, or the family dog.

'This is just really weird,' Minde told the 911 operator, as the Sun reported.  

Paul was a successful executive of a medical device sales firm and living in a $900,000 home in Gainesville until his world began unraveling: He lost his job as president of his namesake company, Reinhart Medical LLC, and he was recently separated from his wife. 

Minde said he never expressed suicidal thoughts, was not being treated for mental illness or taking medication, and he did not own a gun.  

Brody Reinhart, 11, and Rex Reinhart, 14, are pictured with their mother, Minde Pierce Reinhart, and their dog

A firefighter found the two brothers dead on a bunk bed, with their father's body resting at the foot of the bed

'He has, before this happened, said he had awful, inappropriate thoughts in his brain,' she said. 'That's all he said, in his mind. He never had said he's going to kill himself or ….Oh, my God. I don't know.'

When Minde entered her sons' bedroom, she found Rex and Brody's cellphones, which meant there was no way for her to contact them directly. She also was unable to track her husband's cellphone online because he had changed the password on the home computer. 

Paul's final text to Minde came in at 5.39am. After that, he stopped answering his wife's messages and calls. 

Alachua County deputies began scouring the area for the father and children, and alerting local institutions and businesses. 

Less than an hour into the search, a deputy got a call from a neighbor living near the Reinharts' vacation home outside Suwannee, Dixie County, saying that Paul's van was parked outside. 

Dixie County Sheriff's deputies received a massage about the van 16 minutes later, at 6.39am. At 7.03am, one of the Dixie County officers told his counterpart in Gainesville that he was about 20 minutes away from the vacation home. 

Paul Reinhart, 46, killed the two boys before setting his home on fire, according to police

Deputies from Alachua County visited the family home in Gainesville around 6am on May 5 after Minde alerted them about Paul's Facebook activity, which included posting 64 of his wedding photos from 19 years ago 

But 10 minutes later, a neighbor called 911 to report a fire raging at the Reinhart family's vacation home. 

The deputy who arrived on the scene was unable to enter the home because of the intensity of the fire.  

A firefighter who responded to the call 19 minutes later entered the burning home in protective gear, made his way upstairs and encountered a pile of debris in front of one of the bedrooms, which he had to crawl over to get inside. 

There, he later reported feeling something 'abnormal' on the bottom bunk bed, which turned out to be Brody Reinhart's dead body. His brother, Rex, and the boys' father were found dead on the top bunk.

Pictured: Erick Von Reinhart, Paul's brother, who is serving 40 years in jail for second-degree murder

'There was no one to save,' the firefighter wrote in his report.

It has since been determined that the fire was deliberately set using an accelerant and a lighter. It took firefighters five minutes to extinguish the flames.   

The tragedy comes 29 months after Paul's older brother, Eric Von Reinhart, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after stabbing his ex-wife's boyfriend, Alex Illiff, 33, in Pasco County in 2014.   

His brother Paul financed Erick’s legal defense, said Regine Iliff, Alex's mother. She remains in touch with Erick’s ex-wife.

The mother of the men, Irenea Reinhart, 73, of Gainesville declined in a phone call to discuss her sons Paul or Erick. The men have at least three other brothers.

Iliff said she had heard news reports this week about the father suspected of killing his children and himself but did not know until a reporter told her that the suspected killer was Paul, the younger brother of the man sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing her own son.

'That sounds so much like Erick,' Iliff said, her voice trembling. She said she still struggles to discuss her son’s death.

'My heart is broken, aches all the time,' she wrote in a letter to the judge in August 2014. 'His loss has turned my life upside down, and the world as I knew it will never be the same.'

In court papers, Erick described himself as diagnosed with a 'major depressive disorder and severe anxiety.' 

In the stabbing in 2014, deputies found Erick bleeding from his neck and stomach from self-inflicted stab wounds on the bathroom floor after he had killed Iliff. 

Erick's estranged wife, Amy Reinhart, hid inside her family’s home during the attack and called 911. The Pasco County sheriff, Chris Nocco, said Erick pleaded with deputies, 'Kill me, kill me,' but he was hospitalized and pleaded guilty in November 2018.

Erick left his own children, then 5 and 6, home alone during the attack, authorities said.

After he was sentenced, Erick complained to the judge that his defense lawyer had been ineffective, saying his brother had uncovered important information she had missed during the discovery phase of the court case. 

He said he would have agreed to a 25-year prison sentence. The judge in December denied his request for a shorter prison term, but a new request is under consideration. Erick is expected to be released from prison in September 2053.

Rex and Brody Reinhart were both youth baseball players in the Gainesville area prior to their tragic deaths, with Rex playing as both a pitcher and hitter for the Florida Heat.

Elite Baseball posted about their deaths on Facebook on May 4, claiming the organization was 'heartbroken.'

'Our boys Brody and Rex were tragically taken from us much too soon. Their love for baseball is unmatched and their impact on the baseball world will never be forgotten,' the post says.

'Near and far, these boys were immensely loved across organizations. Brody had the heart of a lion, and Rex’s determination to be the best on the field was unrivaled. We feel utterly lost and broken.'

The Florida Heat also posted on Facebook about Rex's death.

Pictured: Police investigate the scene following the deaths of the three people in Florida

This mural was painted last week in Gainesville in honor of Rex and Brody Reinhart 

'Rex made an immediate impact on the team and in the lives of his teammates, both on and off the field,' their post read. 'He was kind, generous, funny, talented, and a bit of a fashion icon with his flow and sunglasses. His loss is profound and we are reeling.'

Brody went to school at Chiles Elementary, while Rex was a student at Kanapaha Middle School.

The Rex and Brody Reinhart Memorial Fund has been administered by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida.

The fund's descriptions says: 'The Rex and Brody Reinhart Memorial Fund was established by friends and family to honor the boys and support the causes they cared about most.' 

On Wednesday evening, a mural was painted in Gainesville to honor the two boys.

'We came out here because our friend passed away and him and his brother. We’re just coming here to support him and paint this memorial for him,' friend Heath Vincent told WCJB.  

For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 

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