ABC13 heads to Nigeria in search for Tata

March 10, 2011 8:36:40 PM PST
Two weeks ago Thursday, a fire at a home daycare in west Houston killed four toddlers and injured three more. The woman who was supposed to be caring for them wasn't home when the fire started.

She is now charged with several crimes including manslaughter. Since then she's become one of the U.S. Marshals' most wanted fugitives.

Investigators say, two days after the fire she fled to Nigeria where her parents are from and hasn't been seen since. We went to Nigeria to see how the search is going.

In a country of nearly 160 million people, it's no surprise Nigerians haven't heard of Jessica Tata. She's accused of killing four children.

Throughout the night, the street life in the country is very much alive.

But John Barnett, a Houstonian who works in Nigeria, says finding Tata is a long shot at best.

"Not only do you have the problem of locating this person, but what name are you gonna use to circulate," Barnett said.

She could be using a myriad of different names, like her birth name, her tribal name, her Christian name, village name, among others.

"You're going to have a big problem trying to locate her," he said.

Others seem to disagree.

"We just need a few details of her father, her parents and that would be it," a Nigerian said.

"So you think if the U.S. Marshals work this story really well and fast and we're here, they can flush her out?" we asked him.

"Yeah, definitely they can get her. I mean definitely. It's traditional to turn in persons like this. It's not going to be too difficult," he responded.

So there's a great deal of activity as far as attempts to locate Tata by some of the locals, but at least by U.S. officials' standards, there are no officials from the United States actually in Nigeria working on this.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 cash reward for information that'll lead to the arrest of Tata. It is specifically asking for information on where she may be in Nigeria. If you have information, call Crimes Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.


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