DA: Dillsburg-area cop tried to frame ex-wife's boyfriend, plotted violence against them
An area police sergeant who tried to frame his estranged wife's boyfriend for a felony crime — and who harbored darker, violent intentions for the couple — forced investigators to try to arrest him at his Dillsburg-area home when he thwarted their attempts to lure him to a neutral location, according to Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed.
"(Police found) evidence to show there were more violent acts being planned by Reinhart," he said.
Sgt. Ronald W. Reinhart Jr., 40, fatally shot himself in the head inside his Carroll Township home Monday during a standoff with law-enforcement officers from York and Cumberland counties.
He was a police officer with Susquehanna Township Police in Dauphin County for 17 years, according to the department's chief, Rob Martin.
"We're in shock," Martin said at a Tuesday-morning press conference. "My challenge is to get my officers through this."
Struggling to control his emotions, Martin said that when Reinhart was on duty he was professional and that there was no indication he was troubled.
Dark heart: Still, Martin acknowledged, when it comes to co-workers, people don't always know "the darkness in their hearts."
Upper Allen Township Police and the Cumberland County Special Response Team, a SWAT-type unit, went to Reinhart's home at 170 Martel Circle on Monday morning with an arrest warrant, which is when the sergeant forced a standoff, Freed said, adding that police knew "this was a potentially high-risk situation."
Reinhart lived there alone and had no children, Upper Allen Township Police Chief James Adams said.
Adams said his investigators made two separate attempts to draw Reinhart to a safer neutral location where they could arrest him after their month-long investigation into his actions, but neither attempt worked.
At that point, police feared the attempts "might have tipped him off," according to Adams, who said the idea of arresting Reinhart at work was dismissed because he would certainly be armed there.
Going to Reinhart's home was "really the last option we had," Adams said.
Planted jewelry: Reinhart burglarized estranged wife Jacqueline Hall's Upper Allen Township home July 25, then planted the evidence at another location and gave police an anonymous tip naming the boyfriend as the burglar and telling police where they could find Hall's stolen jewelry and property, according to Freed.
He did this "in order to get the estranged wife back," the DA said.
Hall left Reinhart in June, according to Adams.
In mid August, Upper Allen Township investigators snagged Reinhart's trash and found evidence in it, including a discarded letter to Steven Brown, Hall's boyfriend, according to Freed:
'You have one chance': The contents of the letter are in charging documents filed Monday against Reinhart, charging him with burglary, official oppression, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and other offenses. The letter reads:
"Listen to me Steve, this is the only chance I am going to give you. You have one chance to end this. If you don't, what happened to you this week will only get worse. You know what you need to do. If you do not end this now I will end it for you. I can find out anywhere. I know where you go and everything you do. ... Phase 2 begins soon."
Brown never received the threatening letter, officials said.
Chief Adams said the lead investigator into Hall's burglary, Detective Sgt. Thomas Kauffman, "just felt something wasn't right," especially considering Reinhart's response.
"Reinhart inserted himself in the investigation for no apparent reason," Adams said.
He also tried to convince Upper Allen Township Police not to solve the burglary, telling them "he'd like the case to go away," according to Freed.
Evidence: Kauffman's investigation into Reinhart uncovered physical evidence as well, including texts he sent to his wife in which he "is begging her to return home," Freed said.
Cell phone records show that at the time Hall's home was being burglarized, Reinhart was in the area, according to Freed, while Brown was in Harrisburg with Hall.
Police also learned Reinhart had used law-enforcement databases more than 170 times to make unofficial inquiries — primarily about Brown, but also about Hall, the district attorney said. In one of those inquiries, Reinhart obtained Brown's Social Security number, officials said.
Police also tracked down the prepaid cell phone, called a "burner phone," that was used to call in the anonymous tip that Brown was behind the burglary.
Freed said surveillance video from Walmart in Lower Allen Township shows Reinhart buying that phone on July 28.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.