Houston Chief: Mistakes Let Day Care Owner Flee

Fire Chief Terry Garrison admitted Wednesday that mistakes were likely made by his arson investigators in the case of fire at a day care that claimed four young children.


District Attorney Pat Lycos stands by her prosecutors, saying on Tuesday that, "If anybody wants to attack, attack me."

U.S. marshals said they were making progress in working with Nigerian officials through the U.S. State Department, but a spokesman declined to elaborate.

Arson investigators said the fire started in the kitchen after someone left a pot of oil sitting on a hot burner.

Houston Fire Department investigators said Tata left the children alone while she went grocery shopping at a Target store that was less than a mile away from the home. Detectives said security video showed her arriving at the store at 1:09 p.m. and driving away from the store at 1:24 p.m.

Witnesses said Tata returned just as smoke began billowing out of the home day care. The first call to 911 was made by someone other than Tata at 1:29 p.m., investigators said.

Lykos said Tata is a U.S. citizen who was born in Harris County. She attended Katy's Taylor High School.

"All these agencies share a frustration that the suspect is not here to face the charges for her actions," Garrison said. "We shared a timeline with the public as an accounting of our actions. I am extremely proud of our efforts."

Anyone with information on Tata's whereabouts is asked to contact the U.S. Marshal's Office at 713-718-4259.

"We're going to work and do whatever needs to be done to get Tata back here," Garrison said.

Sources in the Katy Independent School District said that Tata set two fires when she was a ninth-grade student at Taylor High School. Sources said one fire was set in the main part of the campus. The other fire was in a bathroom in the Ninth Grade Center.

Tata is not accused of arson in the day care fire, officials said.

Some Funeral Arrangements Set

Funeral arrangements for two of the victims have been set.

Shomari Dickerson's viewing will be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Earthman Resthaven, 13102 North Freeway. His funeral will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Castillo's viewing will be held at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. His funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Friday.

Funeral arrangements for Kojah and Stradford have not been announced.

Fire department officials said they are working with the Houston Police Department's Victim's Services Unit to provide assistance to the victims' families.

Copyright 2011 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.