Investigators have found that the operator of a home daycare where a fire killed four children last week had left the youngsters in her care alone to go shopping, according to a court document made public.
Surveillance video shows Jessica Tata, described as a Nigerian was shopping at a Target store about a 1.5km away from the facility when the fire started last Thursday, investigators said in papers relating to the probable cause.
They believe the fire, in which three other children were injured, was started by a stove top burner that had been left on.
Tata, 22, has fled to Nigeria since being charged for the fire. Authorities are still trying to locate her. She has been charged with reckless injury to a child and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said her office plans on filing nine more charges against Tata.
They will include six more charges of reckless injury to a child and three charges of child endangerment.
Authorities earlier this week had said that Tata was a native of Nigeria.
But Lykos said Tata is a US citizen who was born in Texas and apparently has family in Nigeria. It was not immediately known whether she had a lawyer.
Attempts to contact her family in person and by phone at multiple addresses and telephone listings have so far been unsuccessful.
The video shows Tata entering the store at 1.09pm and driving away at 1.24pm.
The first 911 call about the fire was made at 1.29pm, according to the affidavit.
Tata had told neighbours immediately after the fire that it started in the kitchen while she was in the bathroom.
Houston Fire Department investigators have said in court documents that two of Tata’s neighbours described seeing her drive up and go into the home where the day care centre was located, then hearing her screaming seconds after she went in the front door.
They saw smoke coming from inside.
Two of the injured children are still in hospital at Shiners Hospital for Children in Galveston. Their conditions have been upgraded to stable and improving, said hospital spokeswoman Jo Ann Zuniga.
Meanwhile, the US Marshals Service in Houston is still trying to confirm that Tata is in Nigeria, said agency spokesman Alfredo Perez.
However, Joachim Olumba, a spokesman for the Nigerian Immigration Service, said that he had no information about Tata or her current whereabouts.