GLENMONT, Ohio - Laurel Etzweiler says she was at home New Years Day rocking her grandchild when she got a call that she needed to come into work.
Etzweiler, the coordinator for the Kno-Ho-Co Ashland Head Start preschool in Glenmont says the mayor of the Holmes County village found a door to the school building open and went inside to investigate.
What they found was heartbreaking.
"It looked like somebody had just taken everything and threw all the furniture every piece of paper and just threw it up in the air and let it fall out it was just a mess," said Etzweiler.
The damage and vandalism were only the beginning.
Outside of the second-floor classroom of Lisa Miller the intruder had gathered books and papers and set a fire in the hallway.
"We thought it was just vandalism and when we walked through the hallway through the mess which you had to step through the mess to get to where the fire was and it looked like somebody had a big campfire in front of our classroom door and the door was just as black as it could be, soot everywhere," said Etzweiler.
A check of school security cameras showed the image of a man lingering outside of a side door to the building less than an hour into the new year.
After staring into the building the video shows him using his elbow to smash out a pane on the door after which he reaches inside, opens the door and enters the school building.
Cameras inside the school show him wandering the stairwells and hallways.
About four hours after he entered the school, the cameras capture the glow and smoke from the growing fire.
Investigators found small containers that had been used to store school supplies in the hallway with water in them.
Holmes County Chief Deputy Richard Haun says it is possible the intruder wanted to try and put out the fire himself.
"It appears that he had attempted to extinguish the fire by using water by running up and down between the floors and trying to get that fire extinguished because it is our belief that the fire extinguishers were going off at that time and it would have drawn attention to what he was doing at that point," said Haun.
Etzweiler says the smoke detectors were found torn off of the walls.
"It looked like somebody had a big campfire in front of our classroom door and the door was just as black as it could be, soot everywhere," she said.
From the video, the Holmes County Sheriffs Office identified the suspect as 37-year-old Timothy Mellor of Glenmont.
He was arrested later that same day.
"He was interviewed by detectives and the deputies, he did readily admit to the actions," said Haun.
School, meanwhile, has been canceled for the 72 students while restoration workers and teachers themselves, including Lisa Miller, try to clean up the mess.
"I was speechless. Just devastating how much damage it did and it is just heartbreaking for the kids," said Miller.
"In a roundabout way he has affected 72 children and probably 30 employees that were just it turned our lives upside down and its sad and I'm sorry that he felt he needed to do that," she added.
Miller showed Fox 8 news journals that contained the students work from the entire school year which have to be thrown out because of the soot.
Investigators say they don't have a motive for the crime.
Etzweiler says she had never met Mellor and does not believe the crime was an act of revenge, or specifically intended to target the students or teachers at the school.
Mellor was in the Holmes County Jail facing charges of arson, breaking and entering with additional charges expected.