CANTON, Ohio -- Canton police say they quickly made an arrest in an arson case, when the suspect returned to the scene of the crime and was identified by witnesses.
The story began to unfold on Sunday afternoon, when Canton firefighters responded to a report that a home on the city's northeast side was engulfed in flames and that the fire was spreading.
Of primary concern to neighbors was the safety of the woman and two small children who live in the home on Harrisburg Road NE.
Angel Worrell, who lives across the street, told FOX 8, "Wow, I hope the babies wasn't in there, because she's always outside with the kids."
Firefighters arriving at the scene quickly realized their best hope was to try and contain the fire. They were relieved to learn the woman and her children were not home when the fire started, and that a neighboring home was vacant. Canton Fire Chief Stephen Rich said, “The amount of fire that was in there, if anybody would have been in there, it would have been hard to save them.”
As firefighters battled the blaze, neighbors approached police at the scene and told them about the unusual behavior of 20-year-old Thomas Miserendino-Cimirro in the hours leading up to the fire. “He asked the neighbors for gas, going up and down the road," said Worrell. “Which was unusual considering I believe he only rode a bicycle and he didn't have a car or anything,” added Chief Rich.
Investigators said Miserendino-Cimirro had been thrown out of the house earlier in the day by the woman who lived here, and later sent her a message indicating that he was going to make her life “a living hell.”
Witnesses said they were surprised when Thomas Miserendino-Cimirro returned to the scene and made several statements about the fire. Worrell said, "I mean he was bragging about it. He was bragging that he did it. ‘I did it, yeah, I did it,' I mean what else are you going to do or say?"
When witnesses pointed the suspect out to a Canton police officer, the 20-year-old initially refused to identify himself.
Based on witness statements, he was arrested on charges that include aggravated arson and obstructing official business. “You can't walk around doing that to people's homes, just because you`re mad and you're upset”, said Worrell, “You just can't do that.”
Miserendino-Cimirro is being held in the Stark County Jail.