The U.S. Marshals Service, which is on an aggressive pursuit of Jessica Tata, a Nigerian lady charged in a deadly day care fire in Texas, has sought the assistance of Nigerian officials to find her, an agency spokesman said weekend.
The US 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 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 said.
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.
Observers believe that if Tata were in Nigeria, she is most likely to be holed somewhere in oil rich Rivers State, her home state.