HOUSTON -- The U.S. Marshals Service is aggressively
pursuing a woman charged in a deadly day care fire in Texas and
is working with Nigerian officials to find her, an agency spokesman
said Friday.

Authorities believe Jessica Tata, 22, fled to Nigeria two days
after a fire erupted at her home day care center in Houston on Feb.
24. Four children were killed and three others were injured.
Investigators believe the children had been left alone.

U.S. Marshals investigators are aggressively pursuing this
case, Jeff Carter, the agency's spokesman in Washington, told The
Associated Press. The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington has
been in contact with Nigerian officials, through the appropriate
law enforcement and diplomatic channels, to let them know of our
interest and solicit their cooperation in locating Jessica Tata.

Tata has been charged with manslaughter, injury to a child and
child abandonment amid accusations she left the youngsters alone
while she shopped. Fire investigators said they received a tip that
she had relatives in Nigeria and might flee.

Another U.S. Marshals Service spokesman, Alfredo Perez, said
earlier Friday that agents were actively looking for Tata but
haven't confirmed her location.

The bottom line is that we don't know where she's at, Perez

Tata's name appeared on an airline's passenger manifest for a
flight to Nigeria, but the Marshals Service hasn't confirmed the
person who boarded was Tata, he said.

Last week, officials said passenger records reviewed by U.S.
Customs and Border Protection agents showed that two days after the
fire, Tata flew from Dallas to Atlanta and then to Lagos, Nigeria.
Authorities in Nigeria said they have no record that a woman wanted
in Houston flew into the West African nation.

Nigerian Immigration Service spokesman Joachim Olumba said
officials checked the logs at each of Nigeria's international
airports for Tata.

If she came into Nigeria, she likely used another name,
Olumba told the AP.

Olumba said the U.S. has yet to contact his office about Tata.

Repeated efforts to reach Tata's relatives by phone and in
person at their Houston home have been unsuccessful.

The U.S. Marshals Service, which is leading the search for Tata,
has put the day care operator on its list of the 15 most wanted
fugitives and has offered a reward of up to $25,000. Interpol, the
international police agency, has alerted its member countries,
including Nigeria, telling them that Tata is being sought by the
United States.

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