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Woman charged in Texas day care deadly fire back in the U.S.

By the CNN Wire Staff
Officials say Jessica Tata, shown in a file photo, arrived in Atlanta on Monday and was booked into jail in Fulton County, Georgia.
Officials say Jessica Tata, shown in a file photo, arrived in Atlanta on Monday and was booked into jail in Fulton County, Georgia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Jessica Tata expected back in Texas within 24 hours, lawmaker says
  • Tata arrived in Atlanta from Nigeria on Monday, officials said
  • Four children died at her Houston day care in February
  • Tata faces manslaughter and unlawful flight charges
RELATED TOPICS
  • Jessica Tata
  • Daycare
  • Fires
  • Houston (Texas)
  • Nigeria

(CNN) -- The woman charged in a deadly day care fire that killed four small children is expected to be back in Texas within the next 24 hours, a U.S. Congresswoman said Monday.

Jessica Tata, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Nigeria, fled to Lagos shortly after the fatal fire at her Houston home in February.

She arrived in Atlanta early Monday morning and was booked into Fulton County Jail, officials said in a statement. Tata also made an appearance in magistrate court, where she waived her extradition rights.

According to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, arrangements are being made for her transport back to Texas. However, Lee did not know exactly when Tata would arrive in Houston or how she would be traveling.

Investigators allege that Tata, a 22-year-old day care owner, left seven children alone at her Houston day care center with the stove on while she went to a store in February. Four children died, and three others were injured in the blaze.

Tata was taken into custody Saturday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by Interpol and U.S. diplomatic security agents, officials said.

At a news conference Monday, Lee said Tata turned herself in to authorities after a "monumental" effort between the U.S. and Nigerian governments, along with Tata's family in Lagos.

"We now have the opportunity to move forward," Lee said, adding that she worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and spoke with the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S. to make sure Tata's return was a "top priority."

On Sunday, Lee gathered with Houston's Nigerian community for a memorial service in honor of the four children lost in the fire, where ministers "pleaded" for Tata to return home.

U.S. marshals were asked to join the search by Harris County authorities after Tata left the Houston area. They added the missing woman to their 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list in March.

Tata has been indicted on felony charges in the fatal fire, including 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.

The Harris County district attorney's office said it would not comment on the case until Tata is back in its custody.

CNN's Antoinette Campbell contributed to this report.

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