Police: Woman Sets Home On Fire, Threatens Suicide

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — Apple Valley officials are investigating after a woman allegedly poured gasoline inside her Apple Valley home, lit it on fire and threatened to kill herself.

The Apple Valley Police Department and Apple Valley Fire Department responded to the residence around 9:15 a.m., at 4754 142nd St. W., after receiving a call from a neighbor that the home was on fire.

Kathy Paneinh lives across the street and watched in disbelief.

“I’m just shocked,” she said. “We’ve been here 14 years and never seen anything like this happen.”

Two Apple Valley police officers arrived to find flames coming out of the back of the home and a woman locked in a vehicle outside the house. Police say she was stabbing herself in the chest with a screwdriver.

As a sergeant arrived, the woman, later identified as Rhonda Arkley, 49, fled the scene in her vehicle.

Rhonda Arkley, Apple Valley, fire, suicide

Rhonda Arkley, from a 2005 arrest for domestic assault. (credit: CBS)

Police officers deployed road spikes on Pilot Knob Road at Cliff Road, which flattened her tires and stopped her vehicle.

As officers ran up to the vehicle, Arkley was using a hammer to pound screwdriver into her chest. Officers took her into custody and administered first aid.

She was later transported to Regions Hospital to be treated for self-inflicted stab wounds and burns.

Her husband, Stuart Arkley, 49, was also in the residence at the time of the fire. He ran to the neighbor’s home when the house went up in flames and was also transported to Regions Hospital for burn treatment.

The incident is currently under investigation.

On Nov. 17, police were called to the residence to investigate the death of Arkley’s 22-year-old son, who was found dead in his bedroom. There were no obvious signs of trauma, according to police.

That incident is also still under investigation.

WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson Reports

More from Bill Hudson
  • JamieinMN

    I’m sure glad it turned out OK. I hope this woman gets the help she needs. I can’t imagine trying to kill yourself, slowly and painfully.

    • BW

      Turned out OK? This is not Okay.The house is gone; I’m certain the husband must be beyond upset; and she will be spending time in a psych ward after her wounds heal.

      • Northern Minnesota

        I have to agree with BW far far from ok. I was just glad to hear that there were no children in the house. I feel bad for the husband. Hope he will be ok. Hope she gets the help that she so desperatly needs.

      • JamieinMN

        I’m referring to THE PEOPLE who were involved.

      • JamieinMN

        Looks like you’re VERY focused on material things.

  • Joel M

    My son committed suicide some years ago. My daughter is in a wheelchair, has been since the age of 9.
    This woman is struggling but my God – this makes no sense under any circumstances.. I honestly hope she doesn’t ever walk the streets alone ever again.

  • BettyBoob

    Look at all the cracker jacks that are making the headlines locally in last week.
    Are we leading the USA in insanity percentages?

  • Jessica

    I am so sorry she recently lost her son!! I can unstandstand her pain then.

  • A person

    She just lost her son, have some empathy. Stop with the immature comments.

  • NOYB

    Dear Stacy, Bruiser & BettyBoob,

    Grow up please. Thanks.


    • BeatnDowninMN

      Hi love … it’s me


    • Martha

      To NYOB:
      THANK YOU!!!!!

  • BostonBob

    I am on my knees saying a prayer to Buddha for her miracle healing that has already taken place. I know because of who I am. It has started. She shall rebuild a new and bigger and better home as all shall donate flowers and dollars to assist her.

    I know that many others shall also assess whether they too may benefit from something similar and I must say I have but one gift a day I may make. sorry

  • Maria

    A Vote for mental illness defense is always a good vote

  • Steph

    Did anyone stop to think that MAYBE she was so overwhelmed by the memories of her son in the home that she couldn’t take it anymore and wanted it gone and then realized that she just couldn’t go on without him?? Everyone deals with loss in their own way and it’s not up to anyone else to judge them for it! Have you lost your child?? Grow up and leave this family alone. She may have caused extra work for some people, but at least she is still alive and can get some help. I hope she is able to heal and come to grips with her loss.

    • Sam

      “She may have caused extra work for people.” extra work? she destroyed her home…how is that rational?

  • A Concerned Citizen of Apple Valley

    Obviously this woman needs help, love, and support NOT ridicule. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. I am in no way condoning what she did, but people should be supportive not judgmental.

  • bobbi

    some day this could be you-how do you want people to respond to youe pain/understnding and compassion are in order. remember it is the xmas season/may the troubled person find some peace.

  • Anita

    Steph – yes I have. My son in a car accident. My daughter in a suicide. You need not tell me what goes on in ones mind as I feel pain every day. Terrible hurt and guilt and pain.

    I didn’t burn down my house. I didn’t attempt suicide. I am not comdening her either but there also is no need to defend what she has done.

    One can only trust there will be help there for her. If there is a spouse involved he may not be any longer in a position to provide support as he now as lost it all

    • meeeee


      NO one is in my opinion defending anyone. But people need to realize that each person handles pain differently…I’m not condoning her act, or even making excuses for what she did…what I am trying to do is get people to realize that no one deals with emotions exactly the same. If we did, there would be no need for mental health institutions or doctors. I pity her…I think she needs help…I hope she gets it…but people making nasty comments isn’t doing anything to help.

    • MArtha

      And your daughter, if this was the response to her suicide, would you have the same response? Were you there when she was in pain? did you see even see her? I have a hard time believing you lost a daughter to suicide and have such a cold response. Showing compassion is not the same as defending her actions. You of all people should know that it is not just sadness, there is much more involved and the person is not in a state of mind to make rational decisions. Yet you choose to rationalize that you are somehow entitled to judge because you too have lost a child. Maybe you are not coping with the loss as well as you think, maybe not at all. I hope you get some help with grief as you do not sound like someone that is handling it in a very healthy way.

  • HolidayHelper

    I heard from a friend in Apple Valley that the woman deliberately threw gasoline on her husband and tried to light him on fire, that’s how the house caught fire. It’ll be interesting to see the actual facts of the case come to light. Yes she needs help, clearly she’s a danger to herself and others, no matter what triggered her actions.

  • FreakedOutin MN

    Helper — no chit???
    Not good at all if true. nothing left at all.
    any other kids in family?
    wow wow wow

    • a neighbor

      a another son and daughter, both late teens or early 20s i’d say…

  • red

    omg Crazy lock her up in the psych ward.

  • KracktKrock

    No doubt they have already done so Red … now imagine if a fireman was injured, a neighbors home damaged, if indeed she attempted to torch her husband (I pray this is false), all the other things here …. bad bad bad news.
    She is sick – one wonders if a mind this messed up is capable of recovery? I don’t mean partially but enough where one could feel safe around that person knowing what the past held????
    Best of wishes to them all

    • John W

      yes she didnt she was trryin to kill her self not him at all he went in to look for her and didnt see her in the car

  • v. mercy

    obviously the wrong action but thats not really the point. its not an isolated case. she probably fought to save her child from addiction for years. the back story could be more than anyone of us could take. or maybe not. maybe she just does not have it all together. we really don’t know. anyway, im getting used to the way folks vent on these forums, but i still can’t figure out why people say the stuff they say. but they do. those of you who are enraged by it, just take a deep breath and then…for the most part ignore it. remember, some of the mean people feed on the attention, but not all of them. some of them have valid points that make sense sharing even if it hurts a little. anyway. i just know…between the lack of empathy and the tragedy itself, it all just makes me sad.

  • Jen Y

    K – but I still say they don’t need to spend money investigating it when it’s mighty clear what she did is all I meant. She went off the cliff
    Unless the reason was to hide something I guess ….

    so maybe they do need to look a bit deeper thru the remains of the house. Now I am worried

    • Me, Myself, and I

      Worried about WHAT?! That she may read your comment and come and find you?? This woman LOVED her son. I know this for a fact. All the ridiclous comments I am reading on here makes me realize how many judgemental people there really is in this world! Let her be so she can heal.

    • John W

      she didnt kill her son and i know that for a fact! and his close friends and his family know what did!

  • Change maybe?

    Maybe she was just tired of living in Apple Valley.

    • JamieinMN

      How could you get tired of living in Apple Valley?!?!! I dream of someday owning a home out there. I love it.

      • Sam

        I hope this is sarcasm.

    • g money

      Deep in the ghetto? Its hard for anyone.

  • neighborhood

    she was always a little… special a tad emotional before any of this happened, even when the son was young. i dont know any facts but she never seemed mentally stable.

    • john q

      yea well your yard looks terrible

  • Juliette

    This is such a tragic situation for their entire family! I hope there weren’t any pets who perished in the fire.

  • molly

    Kudos to the positive comments, the rest of you need to get a life

  • Black Native

    The world need God! He has come to heal the broken hearted! Amen

    • Anonymous


  • steve

    The lady is a nut, I’ve met her. She has always been unstable! If she wanted to kill herself that is one thing, but she was trying to kill her husband. She has an arrest record for assault on her husband in the past. Sure loosing a kid (hopefully not at her own hand) is horrible but there is no excuse for this!

    • Sam


  • scarybutmad

    I agree with Steve, go ahead and take your own life, but now she has completely destroyed the lives of her husband and children that are still living. I live near this home and I heard early (by 10 am) that she doused her husband with gasoline and tried to lgiht him on fire. Then she went after the house. If she wanted to die from the pain of losing her child, that is understandable, but to destroy other lives and put neighborhood homes in jeopardy….that is selfish and nuts. This woman has been a troublemaker for years, always trying to cause trouble and harass people. I feel so incredibly sorry for the children in this mess, including the one that was found dead. She needs to be in an institution for a very long time and hopefully her family can heal.

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