Jessica Tata, 22, has been charged with one count of reckless bodily injury to a child. The charge carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison, if convicted, according to Donna Hawkins, of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Tata has not been taken into custody. U.S. marshals said she flew to Nigeria on Saturday before she was charged, so there was no reason for airport officials to stop her.
An arrest warrant was issued on Monday.
“If she is out of the country, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get her back,” said Alfredo Perez with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Tata was the day care provider at a home in the 2800 block of Crestpark at Waypark when a fire broke out Thursday at 1:40 p.m. The house served as a day care facility called Jackie’s Child Care.
Investigators said Tata was not home at the time of the fire because she was grocery shopping. Sources told KPRC Local 2 that security video shows she was in a store for at least 13 minutes.
Firefighters arriving at the scene found two injured children outside the home and five more trapped inside. All of the victims ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old.
Three of the children, Elizabeth Kojah, of Cypress, and Kendyll Stradford, of Katy, both 20 months old; and Shomari Dickerson, 3, died on Thursday. A fourth child, Elias Castillo, died on Saturday.
Two of the surviving children are at Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston in critical condition. The third surviving child has been released from the hospital.
Tata was charged in connection with Dickerson’s death. Prosecutors would not say if more charges are expected. Her bail will be set at $500,000