Houston Day Care Owner on 'Most Wanted'

By Jason Beahm on March 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Houston day care owner is wanted by police after a fire killed four children and trapping seven inside her home day care. Jessica Tata, 22, is now on the U.S. Marshals "Most Wanted List." She is accused of carelessly starting a fire and then taking off. The fire killed four children.

She now faces massive charges including manslaughter, abandoning a child under 15 and reckless injury to a child. Manslaughter, the most serious of the charges, is an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence.

The Houston fire department spoke with Jessica Tata on February 25. After initially refusing to speak with them, she later referred all questions to her attorney. According to the U.S. Marshals Tata flew to Georgia and they now believe she may have escaped to Nigeria, CNN reports. In light of Tata's disappearance, investigators have added unlawful flight to avoid prosecution to the charges.

"What she told us was not truthful," said Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison. Tata had contended that she was in the day care's bathroom when the fire happened, but witnesses contradicted her story. Tata allegedly left the children in the building as it burned, as she sped off in her car, CNN reports.

Investigators seem to have miscalculated with regard to what the Houston day care owner was capable of regarding the fire and Jessica Tata's apparent escape. "Somewhere along the way, we may have made a mistake ... We're going to learn from our mistake. We're not going to blame anybody. We're not going to make excuses," said Garrison.

It's a tragic case, and yet another reminder of why it is crucial to make sure you know who is taking care of your children.

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