Police: Duluth burn victim set herself on fire

Body: 
 

DULUTH, Minn. -- A 24-year-old woman found on a Duluth roadside last week with severe burns had set herself on fire, authorities said Wednesday.

The Duluth Police Department reported that its investigation concluded that Jaclyn Arnold’s injuries were “self-inflicted.” Officials earlier said they were treating it as a criminal incident pending further investigation.

Arnold suffered life-threatening injuries when she was found on fire along Minnesota Highway 23 on the afternoon of Oct. 19. A passerby extinguished the fire.

Police would not disclose what evidence led to the determination that the fire was intentional or offer any additional details on the incident Wednesday.

“We will not be releasing any further information or doing interviews on this matter out of respect for the victim and her family, who are understandably going through a terrible time right now,” Deputy Chief Laura Marquardt said in an email. “I will reiterate that all deaths or potential deaths are investigated by the Duluth Police Department until it can be determined if a matter is criminal or not; this incident is no different and at this time we have determined this was self-inflicted.”

Arnold remained in critical condition at a Minneapolis hospital on Wednesday afternoon, police said. She reportedly suffered burns over 85 percent of her body.

A GoFundMe page created by Arnold’s co-worker, Laura Gapske, topped the $20,000 mark by Wednesday morning. Gapske wrote in an update that the family was “overwhelmed by the generosity” of the community.

“Please continue your thoughts and prayers for Jacque and her family as she continues to heal,” Gapske wrote.

Arnold, who grew up in Colorado, moved to Duluth and was hired this spring to work as a community advocate for Heart for the People, a program that is overseen by First Witness Child Advocacy Center in partnership with Indigenous Peoples Circle and the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse.

Arnold was stable following surgery and in a medically induced coma, her mother, Laura Pleban, told WCCO-TV in the Twin Cities this week. She added that Arnold faced up to 30 more surgeries in her recovery.

Police said they were continuing to investigate the incident.