TX Suspect in Fire That Killed 4 Kids Flees to Nigeria Before Charges are Filed


A Houston day care operator’s ability to slip out of the U.S. before she was charged in last week’s fire that claimed the lives of four children has prompted questions about whether law enforcement or prosecutors dropped the ball, the Houston Chronicle reports. Jessica Tata, 22, left Texas on Saturday on a flight bound for Nigeria. One day later, a charge of reckless injury to a child was filed. But it was too late. Tata was gone.

Houston Fire Department arson investigators said it took at least four approaches to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office before prosecutors filed charges against Tata on Sunday. Fire Marshal Richard Galvan said an arson investigator told prosecutors on Friday they had a tip that Tata was preparing to leave the United States. “The state had to establish there were no other employees or adults on site at the time the defendant (Tata) left the residence,” said Donna Hawkins, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. Tata operated an at-home day care for children.

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