ATLANTA Jessica Tata, the woman charged in connection with a deadly day care fire in Houston, was booked into the Fulton County Jail in Georgia Monday morning after arriving on a flight from Lagos, Nigeria.
Tata was captured Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by Interpol and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Agents. She was put on a plane and arrived in the U.S. at 5 a.m. Monday.
Officials said Tata, 22, will be extradited to Texas to face charges of manslaughter, reckless injury to a child, abandoning a child and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
U.S. Marshals will escort her back to Houston, possibly as early as Monday night.
In February, four children died and three others were injured in a fire at a home day care center that was owned and operated by Tata in West Houston.
Investigators said Tata left seven children alone in the home while she went shopping. A pot of oil left on a burning stove sparked the fire while she was gone.
Days after the fire, Tata left the country.
The families of the four victims Shomari Dickerson, Elizabeth Kajoh, Elias Castillo and Kendyll Stradford have been waiting for justice ever since.
This lady needs to be brought to justice, and she needs to be brought back to the United States so she can stand trial and go through everything these families have gone through, Tracy Storms, who lost a grandchild in the fire, said.
After Harris County authorities discovered Tata had fled the Houston area, they referred the case to the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force.
The U.S. Marshals added Tata to their 15 Most Wanted fugitive list on March 4. The U.S. Marshals worked domestically and with international investigative resources in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to bring Tata to justice.
When Jessica Tata chose to flee from the consequences of her actions that left four innocent children dead, we made her capture a top priority said Geoffrey Shank, U.S. Marshals Service Acting Assistant Director of Investigative Operations Division. I thank our deputies, and domestic and international partners, for their tireless persistence in bringing this fugitive to justice.
Diplomatic Security s Regional Security Office in Nigeria maintains an excellent working relationship with local law enforcement personnel who helped facilitate Jessica Tata s capture, said Jeffrey W. Culver, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. With today s announcement, Diplomatic Security, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals, sends a strong message to criminals: there is no safe harbor outside the United States.
You cannot thumb your nose at the justice system, whether it be domestically or abroad, said Elizabeth Saenz, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Texas. Justice will be served. Jessica Tata has learned this thanks to the global efforts of the many and unknown.
Tata was in federal custody Monday, but the charges she s facing are violations of state law.
Because of that, Tata will be tried in state court, but 11 News legal expert Gerald Treece said the fact that she fled the country makes it more complicated.
Flight, that she s charged with to make her a federal fugitive, is a federal offense. And usually, the federal government sits back and waits to see what happens on substantive offenses. But she s just opened more doors of prosecution against her than she had before, Treece said.
Unless the state district judge overseeing her case grants a change of venue, Tata will face trial in Houston.