Utah man accused of trying to kill terminally ill wife

DeWayne McCulla is arrested after choking and trying to kill his wife, 47, stricken with terminal breast cancer to ‘ease her suffering’ and was only stopped when family members pulled him off her

  • DeWayne McCulla, 45, is charged with the attempted murder of his wife
  • The husband ‘choked the victim’ in front of six family members in hospice care
  • Arenda, 47, suffered from breast cancer and died in 2021; now DeWayne has been criminally charged 

A Utah husband has now been criminally charged with trying to kill his terminally ill wife in a bid to ‘ease her suffering.’

DeWayne McCulla, 45, is accused of attempting to choke his late wife, Arenda Lee McCulla, while she was receiving hospice care.

Arenda, 47,  died on December 21, 2021, following a grueling battle with breast cancer involving several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy.

The husband ‘choked the victim’ in front of six family members and had to be ‘pulled off of her’, according to charging documents obtained by KSL.

When questioned, McCulla stated that, ‘he would do this again because he loved his wife’, police said.

DeWayne McCulla, 45, is charged with attempting to murder his terminally ill wife, Arenda Lee McCulla, 47, ‘to ease her suffering’

McCulla is accused of attempting to choke his wife to death in front of her family and only stopping when he was pulled off

Police said McCulla admitted to his actions when questioned and told them he would do this again because he loved his wife’. Pictured: Arenda with her son, Michael Ryder

McCulla was charged with attempted murder on Wednesday in 5th District Court. It is not known why the DA has only brought charges two years after Arenda’s death. 

La Verkin police said McCulla admitted to the crime when they called to get his version of events.

‘During the conversation with DeWayne, he admitted to placing his hand over the victim Arenda’s neck in an attempt to ease her suffering as she was dying from cancer and was on hospice,’ the charges state. 

‘He said this was all stopped by family members who observed what he was doing and pulled him off of her. DeWayne said he would do this again because he loved his wife.’

Arenda was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, which then returned and spread to her brain, neck, liver and lungs.

Days before her death, her son Anthony Ryder posted an update on a GoFundMe page for medical expenses, which gave a glimpse into the harrowing, ‘trauma, mutilation and pain’ his mom was going through.

‘After having radiation in the beginning of October and 3600mg of Chemotherapy daily for two weeks on one week off it only extended her life for a few months; if you can call it living.

‘Radiation burns that it caused open sores and blisters in her throat making it impossible to eat, so much so she went almost an entire week not being able to eat anything but an Ensure Shake. These are the cruelties of breast cancer.’

Arenda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, which then spread to her brain, liver, lungs and neck

The mom passed away on December 21, 2021, but charges were not brought against her husband until two years later

Arenda was a keen mountain biker before her illness and volunteered helping out with troubled youths in La Verkin, Utah

The McCullas married in January 2020. Arenda moved from Binghampton, New York, to southern Utah 15 years prior

Prior to falling ill, Arenda was described as an avid mountain biker and a big part of the local community in the Hurricane and La Verkin area.

Originally from Binghampton, New York, she moved to south Utah in 2005 and volunteered at a youth rehabilitation center for many years. The McCullas married in January 2020, according to the late mom’s Facebook page.

An obituary written by Ryder paid tribute to his ‘first best friend.’

‘We lost a wife, mother, sister, and friend. We had a wonderful best friend, side kick, and was the brightest in the room. One who never had the chance to grow old,’ he wrote.

‘She was my first love, my first friend, and my first enemy. During this whole process I’ve been trying to find the words for something lost. 

‘Those long childhood afternoons of watching Golden Girls under a blanket that vanished so completely- and why? We are still reminded sometimes by a joke, a good ride, and youth energy.

‘Just like in life, she brought the family together, brought a ton of laughs that was cathartic.

‘But I would be lying if the last 12hrs weren’t one of the most traumatic experiences in our lives.

‘I had to remember it wasn’t about myself at this moment. I held her hand as she grasped for breath and watched her take her last breath. I love you mom.’

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