GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Nearly two years after both her sons were killed by her estranged husband, a surviving mother is picking up the pieces of her life to move forward as untold storylines about the murders are just emerging.
Minde O’Sullivan, 44, of Gainesville said her new marriage to the University of Florida baseball coach, Kevin O’Sullivan, and a non-profit foundation she created in honor of her boys, Rex Reinhart, 14, and Brody Reinhart, 11, have given her a new purpose in life.
Meanwhile, her sons’ legacy may be legislation – “The Rex and Brody Act” – that is so far sailing through the state Legislature. One bill passed the Senate 39-0 earlier this month, and the House is expected to vote Thursday on another, after it passed unanimously through three committee votes. Similar efforts failed in Tallahassee last year.
The bills would ban the public release of autopsy reports for minors killed by domestic violence – and also ban release of photographs, audio or video, such as police body camera recordings or in reports by child abuse investigators, in cases when a minor is killed, no matter the circumstances.
Minde O’Sullivan’s estranged husband, Paul Otto Reinhart, 46, fatally shot the couple’s sons in May 2021 at the family’s waterfront vacation home in western Florida then set the house on fire and killed himself. The family, which ran a lucrative medical device sales company, was prominent in the region’s social and political circles.
The boys’ autopsies, which were released publicly, revealed that their father had shot both sons before he shot himself and set the fire – even though Minde O’Sullivan had initially assured a 911 dispatcher that her husband did not own any guns during the frantic hours when authorities were still searching for her missing family. Sheriff’s investigators also believed Paul Reinhart didn’t have a gun, based on their review of recent firearms transactions. But detectives later found two 9mm Glock pistols in the burned home in Suwannee.
“I was unaware he bought one two weeks prior,” she said in a recent interview. “I had no idea that he was capable of doing anything like this, or else I never would have left my children with him.”
Court and investigative records showed that the murders happened after Reinhart learned about an extramarital affair, the two traded angry texts about her wishing her husband dead and he made moves to withhold the family’s millions of dollars from her.
“You changed your life insurance policies so I don’t get any f***ing money,” Minde O’Sullivan told Reinhart in a conversation that Reinhart apparently recorded, according to a sheriff’s office report. She later said during a deposition in a related court dispute with Reinhart’s family that she had been unaware of Reinhart’s efforts to change his $4 million in life insurance policies.
When the boys’ autopsies were made public under Florida’s public records law, in August 2021, investigators had not yet released any details about how the boys had died three months earlier. Most media coverage then focused on the disclosure that Reinhart had shot the boys, without graphic descriptions. A local television station went further, detailing in a brief news article published on its website how many times and where on their bodies each boy was shot. Photographs and videos taken during autopsies are already blocked from public view under existing Florida law.
Minde O’Sullivan made clear to lawmakers she did not want to learn details of her sons’ tragic deaths – in a case that generated public interest across Florida – because it would be too upsetting.
The proposed law would have kept details secret. A surviving parent or spouse who was not involved in their child’s death could review an autopsy report. The legislation said such reports contain “highly sensitive descriptions of the deceased” and “could result in trauma, sorrow, humiliation, or emotional injury to the immediate family and minor friends of the deceased, as well as injury to the memory of the deceased.”
The bills would also ban release of photographs, audio or video in all cases when a minor is killed by anyone, not just in domestic violence crimes. The ban would cover accidents, such as car or boat crashes or cases when a child falls off an amusement park ride. It would cover killings even by police or sheriff’s deputies and even if there were questions about whether they acted lawfully in such cases. It would also cover evidence of deaths of children in cases that may have been handled or mishandled by government regulators, such as Florida’s Department of Children and Families.
That provision – which was not in the version of the bill that failed last year – was added last month by the House Judiciary Committee, saying it worried that release of recordings of killings may encourage others.
The bills were sponsored by two Alachua County lawmakers: Rep. Charles “Chuck” Clemons, R-Newberry, and Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.
Clemons said he supports Florida’s public records law, sometimes known as the Sunshine Law, because it shines a light on government programs and activities. “What I’m asking you to do today, with this bill, is to put into the shade the gory photographs, the descriptions, the videos, etc…of minors who have been murdered,” he told lawmakers on the judiciary committee last month.
Minde O’Sullivan pleaded with lawmakers to draft a bill so no surviving parent has to undergo the same hurt ever again, Clemons said. This year, the Senate version passed on April 11, Minde O’Sullivan’s birthday. When the Senate voted, she broke into tears in the Capitol as her mother, Tammy Prince, put her arm around her to comfort her.
“This was just the biggest birthday gift that I could ever imagine,” Minde O’Sullivan said. “It was so emotional.”
Clemons said he looks forward to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the law once it passes the full Legislature, as is expected on Thursday. He said it would have prevented young friends of Rex and Brody learning graphic details online about the deaths of the boys. DeSantis is widely expected to sign the measures into law.
“Think about the psychological impact and the hurt it has not only for those young boys but for the surviving parents, the grandparents, the friends, the close-knit community – it’s all out there and it’s out there forever,” Clemons said.
Under the bill, a judge who finds good cause could disclose autopsy reports in certain cases. The court would have to evaluate the intrusion into the family’s right to privacy and consider whether there is similar information available in other public records.
While Minde O’Sullivan attended legislative hearings in Tallahassee, she also founded and focused her efforts on the Rex & Brody Foundation. The charity honors her sons, who were avid baseball players, to support youth and school baseball teams. Brody regularly served as the unofficial batboy for the University of Florida baseball team. She married baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan on Sept. 24. The two were friends for years and began dating after the murders.
Some details about Reinhart’s actions – and interactions with Minde O’Sullivan – ahead of the murders have not been previously reported.
Eight days before the murders, Reinhart filed paperwork to change two life insurance policies to keep his wife from collecting money after his death. At the time, the couple was separated and intended to divorce. The policies were worth $2 million each and permitted full payouts even in a case of suicide.
The changes by Reinhart named his sons as primary beneficiaries and one of his brothers, Konrad Reinhart of Gainesville, a secondary beneficiary if the boys died. After the murders, Minde O’Sullivan settled a federal lawsuit with Konrad Reinhart last summer over the $4 million. Court records did not specify how the money was divided.
Separately, Paul Reinhart also updated his will 15 days before the murders to prevent his wife from receiving any assets after their 19 years of marriage. He named his brother, in place of his wife, the beneficiary of a retirement account worth more than $600,000.
Two days before the murders, Paul Reinhart began moving large sums of money from the family’s bank accounts: He transferred $299,000 from his business account to a personal account controlled by himself and Konrad Reinhart. He moved $100,000 out of Brody’s account and $100,000 from Rex’s and transferred it to the same account controlled by him and his brother, according to court records.
The same day, Paul Reinhart used his phone to search: “selfish and having an affair” and “how to break someone psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” according to the final Dixie County Sheriff’s Office report.
“The thing that is so upsetting is that it was planned out weeks before,” Minde O’Sullivan said in an interview. “It wasn’t like he just snapped on a whim. He was still walking around with a smile on his face while he was planning all of this.”
The morning of the murders, Paul Reinhart emailed her a message that read, “You got your wish and you can keep the millions.” Attached to the email was an audio recording Reinhart made of the two arguing.
In the recording, Paul Reinhart said, “Honestly wish I were dead.” Minde O’Sullivan responded: “Yes, I do. I do, but you know what sucks? Is you changed your life insurance policies so I don’t get any f***ing money,” according to the sheriff’s office report.
As part of their bitter family legal fights over the estate, Konrad Reinhart accused Minde O’Sullivan of a role in Paul Reinhart’s violence. The sides settled their probate fight in July, according to court records.
“Paul told me that she told him… to go kill yourself multiple times, and Paul said, ‘Are you serious?’” Konrad Reinhart said in a deposition. “And she said, ‘Yes,’ and then she got angry because the life insurance was changed into the boys’ name, and that’s all she was concerned about was the money.”
Minde O’Sullivan’s charity, which raised $82,222 last year, pays for baseball facility improvements and sponsors local teams to compete in national tournaments. Its next major fundraiser is Sept. 23 at UF’s football stadium.
Minde O’Sullivan said the charity gives her a purpose, staying involved with youth baseball. She still attends high school games, she said, and stays in contact with her sons’ teammates.
“I wake up every single morning and think, ‘This is not real, this didn’t happen,’” she said. “But you have choices to make: You either get up and get going, or you choose to give up. And I’ve never chosen to give up.”
She added: “Staying involved in sports and baseball, which was their true passion, has helped a lot. It gives me a purpose. I knew I won’t have my own ever again, but I have hundreds of other children and I’m going to continue to help.”
This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can donate to support our students here.