HOUSTON -- The parents of a toddler who was among three children killed in a Houston day care fire were devastated and still in shock a day later.
Emmanuel Kajoh and Betty Ukara are trying to cope with the loss of their daughter, 20-month-old Elizabeth Kajoh.
"I’m very pained that I had to lose my child at such an early age," said Ukara. "She was so full of life."
When Ukara learned about the fire, she rushed to two different hospitals desperately looking for Elizabeth.
"I asked them, 'Is she alive?'" said Ukara. "Just hoping for a yes. But no, ‘So sorry, we did everything.’ I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe."
The couple said Elizabeth was a daddy's girl.
"She loved me the most," said Kajoh. "Even my wife would say, 'She loves you too much.'"
Kajoh said he fed his daughter mango and changed her diaper Thursday morning before she went to day care.
"She hugged me really tightly," he said. "She was a beautiful child."
Harris County authorities have identified a second victim as 20-month-old Kendyll Stradford. A relative said Kendyll had only been at the day care for two days. She was being raised by a single mother who had just started a new job.
Kenya Stradford, Kendyll's mother, went to the scene of the fire Friday searching for answers. Her family had recently seen the signs on the minivan for Jackie's daycare and decided this was the place for their baby.
"I just need to know what happened," she said. "I can’t imagine why you would leave all these kids in the house by themselves for any reason at all."
Stradford said if she could talk to Tata, she would ask her to "please just tell me what happened. I just need to know what happened."
Stradford said Tata gave her the assurance of good care.
"She said that I could trust her-- that was the last thing that she said to me before I dropped Kendyll off," Stradford said. "She let those babies burn, who does that?"
One of Kendyll's relatives, Shandel Felder, expressed her grief in an e-mail to 11 News Friday.
"Our hearts are completely broken with grief and pain," she said. "Our hearts and condolences go out to the other families that were affected as well."
The third victim was identified Friday evening as 3-year-old Shomari Dickerson. The names of the four children who remain hospitalized haven’t been released.
The day care was operating out of a one-story Houston home, and investigators are still trying to find out what started the fire there.
A source in the Houston Fire Department told 11 News they are looking into the possibility that day care operator Jackie Tata was not home when the fire started.