Rhonda Arkley charged with torching house while husband was inside

Rhonda Arkley tried to stab herself to death with a screwdriver.

Rhonda Arkley tried to stab herself to death with a screwdriver.

The Apple Valley woman who torched her house and attempted suicide with a screwdriver has been formally charged with arson, assault and fleeing cops, though she has still not left the hospital.

The complaint throws new light on the gory and bizarre scene that greeted police when they arrived at the Arkleys' home.

Rhonda Arkley was sitting in her car, stabbing herself with a screwdriver as her house burned behind her. Police say she doused her husband in gas and lit the house up while he was still inside.


Stuart Arkley was lying in bed when his wife Rhonda entered the room holding a gas can and a lit oil lamp. She threw the gas on him, smashed the lamp on the floor and rushed at him as he tried to escape. Picking up an exercise weight that lay near the bed, Rhonda beat Stuart in the head, yelling, "You've wrecked my life, I don't feel like living anymore!"

Stuart pushed past her and ran upstairs to dial 911. The phones had all been disconnected.

When he ventured back downstairs, his wife stood in front of the door, blocking his path.

"I'm just going to kill myself," she said. "I am not going to harm you anymore."

Rhonda picked up a five-gallon can of gasoline and began pouring it throughout the home.

"Before I kill myself, I want to burn the house down," she called. "I do not want anyone else to see this house."

Stuart tussled with his wife, trying to stop her, but she managed to light a piece of paper on fire. He leaped through a back window as the gasoline-soaked floors ignited and ran to a neighbor's. Soon the entire house was engulfed in flames.

Covered in serious burns, Rhonda managed to walk outside and lock herself in her car in the driveway. As two police officers screeched up, they saw Arkley stabbing herself in the chest with a screwdriver. When they tried to open the doors, Arkley took off. Police chased her towards Eagan as she blew through a red light and across a center lane divider, nearly striking other cars. Apple Valley cops radioed Eagan police for help. Predicting her path, officers laid strips of three-inch spikes down in the road. Arkley's car hit them, she lost control, and the car smashed into a road sign and stopped.

As cops ran up to her car, Arkley -- burned, bleeding and covered in soot -- beat the screwdriver into her chest with a hammer. Police wrestled her out of the car and called an ambulance.

She is still in the hospital. Her home was completely destroyed in the fire and she's now facing charges of arson, assault and fleeing cops.

Police had just recently been to the Arkley household for another tragedy -- on November 10, Arkley's 22-year-old son Collin Van Dyk was found dead in his basement bedroom. An autopsy later revealed that he overdosed on heroin. Seems it was not a new problem -- in 2008, Van Dyk was convicted of sticking up the same gas station twice with a knife. He was arrested at his mother's house where police found syringes and heroin. His accomplice said they'd done it for drug money.