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Fugitive Child Care Operator Caught in Nicaragua and Back in the States. 

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Old 03-21-2011, 12:07 PM
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Fugitive Child Care Operator Caught in Nicaragua and Back in the States.

HOUSTON - The woman accused in the deaths of four babies from a child care center fire in Houston was in placed in an Atlanta jail and will be extradited to Texas.

Jessica Rene Tata, 22, appeared Monday morning before a Fulton County magistrate and waived extradition.

Tata, who was listed as one of the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted fugitives and profiled on the FOX television show "America's Most Wanted," was captured Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria by Interpol and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security agents. She arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta after 5 a.m. cst Monday on a flight from Lagos International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria.

Firefighters arrived Feb. 24 to find fire coming from Jackie's Day Care on Crest Park Drive in southwest Houston. The child care center was owned and operated by Tata.

Seven children were alone inside the home-based center when the building caught fire after a pot of oil was left burning on a stove. Tata was not inside the home during the fire, according to a statement released Monday by the U.S. Marshals Service. She faces the following charges: four counts of manslaughter, six counts of reckless injury to a child, three counts of abandoning a child under 15 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Interpol agents in Lagos found Tata and took her into custody based on information provided by the U.S. Marshals Service, Interpol Washington, and Department of State Diplomatic Security.

"When Jessica Tata chose to flee from the consequences of her actions that left four innocent children dead, we made her capture a top priority," said Geoffrey Shank, U.S. Marshals Service Acting Assistant Director of Investigative Operations Division. "I thank our deputies, and domestic and international partners, for their tireless persistence in bringing this fugitive to justice."

"Diplomatic Security's Regional Security Office in Nigeria maintains an excellent working relationship with local law enforcement personnel who helped facilitate Jessica Tata's capture," said Jeffrey W. Culver, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. "With today's announcement, Diplomatic Security, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals, sends a strong message to criminals: there is no safe harbor outside the United States."

"You cannot thumb your nose at the justice system, whether it be domestically or abroad," said Elizabeth Saenz, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Texas. "Justice will be served. Jessica Tata has learned this thanks to the global efforts of the many and unknown."

The USMS Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department, Harris County District Attorney's Office, Interpol Washington, the U.S. National Central Bureau, Interpol - Lagos, DOJ Office of International Affairs and the USMS Investigative Operations Division all took part in the investigation and international search for Tata.

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