Day Care Owner Arrives In Houston

Jessica Tata Surrendered In Nigeria On Saturday

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Jessica Tata

HOUSTON - A day care owner who investigators said fled to Nigeria after four children were killed in a fire while she went shopping is back in Houston.

Jessica Tata left Nigeria on a flight Sunday and arrived in Houston at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. Tata's family in Houston said she wanted to do the right thing and wanted closure.

Tata was booked into the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Fulton County Sheriff's Office officials said she had an extradition hearing and waived extradition to Texas. She is being held without bond.

Tata will appear before a magistrate judge within 48 hours. She will be given the opportunity to receive a court-appointed attorney if she has not hired one of her choice.

She will likely be held without bond because she is a proven flight risk. Tata may be held in administrative isolation, essentially solitary confinement, instead of among the general population to ensure her safety.

Tata, who has been charged with 14 state felonies, including manslaughter, abandoning children, and reckless injury to a child, surrendered to a U.S. embassy in Nigeria on Saturday. She also faces a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Shomari Dickerson, 3, Elizabeth Kojah, 20 months, Kendyll Stradford, 20 months, and Elias Castillo died from the fire at a home in the 2800 block of Crestpark at Waypark shortly before 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24. The house served as a day care facility called Jackie's Child Care.

Three other children were injured in the fire.

Arson investigators said the fire started in the kitchen after someone left a pot of oil sitting on a hot burner.

Houston Fire Department officials said Tata was grocery shopping at a Target store nearby when the fire stated. Detectives said security video showed her arriving at the store at 1:09 p.m. and driving away from the store at 1:24 p.m. The children had been left home alone, investigators said

Witnesses said Tata returned as smoke began billowing out of the home day care. The first call to 911 was made by someone other than Tata at 1:29 p.m., investigators said.

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