Popular Monroe County day care set ablaze, displacing dozens of children

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UPDATE: Jeremy Alan Smith pleaded guilty to arson in the case. A judge sentenced him to 17 years. He’ll serve a minimum of 11 years in prison.

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — A popular day care in Monroe County was set ablaze and the son of the business owner has been accused of the arson.

The owner, Linda Jackson, praised the small town of Ellettsville for rallying to support her and the day care.

From the front desk to the bathroom and the play areas, the inside of the day care is charred black after being set on fire Friday morning.

“This has not just impacted myself. I’ve got 40 children that have to be displaced. This has affected the whole community,” said Linda Jackson.

Jackson has owned and operated Jack and Jill Childcare for more than 20 years. She also lives on the lower level of the building.

Jackson told police right away she knew her own son was likely responsible for the arson.

The fire has obviously forced the day care to temporarily shut down. In the meantime, Linda and her staff are working to make sure all the children find new daytime homes.

“The families that we care for, they’re our families,” said Jackson. “I have a large extension of family. I’ve had some of these kids since birth.”

Sadly, Jackson’s son Jeremy Smith was caught on camera breaking into the business. That led to his arrest just hours later, although the motive for the arson remains unclear.

“Parents were very comfortable taking kids to Jack and Jill’s, so it’s sad we’re going to lose that for 6 months to a year now,” said Ellettsville Town Marshal Jimmie Durnil.

Durnil says while no one was hurt in the fire, he hopes the story is another reminder of the importance of resolving family conflicts without escalating to violence.

“I hope they see they can work things out before they do damage to a business. That’s a very important business to Ellettsville,” said Durnil.

Despite the damage, the building is not a total loss and Linda says she will rebuild. In fact, the mother of one child at the day care has set up a Go Fund Me account to help make that happen.

“We’ve had an outpouring of positive support. People wanting to donate,” said Jackson. “But we have never once asked for anything.”

The suspect remains behind bars facing numerous charges of arson, burglary and theft.

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