My guess is that he is infected, but tha's not based on anything other than the fact that processes running seems to increase dramatically and the system crashes.
I don't see where he can do much other than clean install...if he's running MCE 2005, he should have XP install CDs.
There are some tools that might offer some value. No promise, but nothing to lose that I can see.http://www.avira.com/en/support/support_downloads.html
Scroll down to Avira AntiVir Rescue System
and download the .iso file. Then download Active@ ISO Burner - http://www.ntfs.com/iso_burner_free.htm
and install same. Use the Active@Iso Burner program to create a bootable CD from the .iso file downloaded previously, following the easy instructions for doing so.
Once the Avira file has been turned into a bootable CD, insert the bootable CD into the CD/DVD tray of the laptop. Enter the BIOS and change the boot options on the laptop so that it will boot from CD/DVD drive first. Save the changes made in the BIOS.
How to access-enter Motherboard BIOS - http://michaelstevenstech.com/bios_manufacturer.htm
System will reboot, the CD will run.