International Fugitive Faces Arraignment Today in a Houston Court
22 year old Jessica Tata, international fugitive, was escorted back in the United States on March, 2011 by federal Marshalls after fleeing to Nigeria. Tata was on the 14 Most Wanted Listed and an award of $25,000 was being offered for information leading to her arrest. She will face a judge for arraignment in the 180th criminal court.
Tata owned the home in which four children died as a result of a fire in on February 24. Also an operating daycare licensed by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, Jackie’s Child Care was inspected twice in the last three years by the state. It was cited for two violations—both of which were corrected by the following day: missing carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers.
Investigators learned through eyewitness reports that Tata left the seven children alone during naptime, while she went shopping at the local Target. She left a pot of oil sitting on a burner, which is what the Houston Fire Department Arson Squad investigators have determined to be the origin of the blaze.
The children ranged in age from 18 months to three years.
Captured on Target security cameras leaving the store for five minutes before she arrived home, Tata found the home consumed in smoke. Neighbors tried to help her get the children out of the home, but the thick smoke prevented them from doing so.
The house sustained little fire damage.
Tata is to be arraigned in state district court on 14 charges, including four counts of manslaughter and federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. She is also being charged with reckless injury to a child and child abandonment. She is being held without bond in a Houston jail.
Members of the Houston’s Nigerian Community are concerned that she is casting all Nigerians in a negative light.
“I don’t think what Jessica did was typical of Nigerians,” said Betty Ukera, mother one of the deceased children. Ukera and other Nigerians applauded the State Department for pursuing Tata “aggressively,” but regardless of the outcome, nothing can bring her child back. "There is no justice,” she mourned.
Tiffani Dickerson plans to sue both The State of Texas and Tata. Dickerson’s 3 year old son died in the fire and her daughter suffered severe burns.