The brother of the woman sought in connection with the death of four toddlers in a day care fire said today he has abandoned plans to start a business in the name of the victims and denied that he was trying to profit from the tragedy.
Ron Tata also told ABCNews.com that he does not know where his sister Jessica is. Jessica Tata, 22, disappeared after the fire and is believed to have fled to Nigeria.
Ron Tata, 26, became a target of investigators Tuesday when Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos accused him of attempting to create a business called Houston Benefit of Daycare Victims. The prosecutor called Ron Tata's fundraising plans "reprehensible."
"I would urge the Tata family instead of ... raising money and who knows where that money is going ... and how it's going to be accounted for, that they have Miss Tata return to Harris County and face justice," Lykos said in a press conference Tuesday.
Ron Tata said that he did try to register a nonprofit organization in that name but never planned to handle the money and was working with family members and his church, Christ Embassy, to get the organization going.
"Money is not going to replace anything that these people lost. The way we thought about it, the healing process starts with the burial, the funeral. We wanted to help out any way we could with funeral costs and medical expenses. I wanted to help start it. I was not going to manage the funds," he said.
The plans have been halted since Lykos' comments, Ron Tata said.
"Pat [Lykos] threw a huge ... wrench into what could have been a beautiful thing. She's frustrated," he said. "Jessica's not here, they've got to point the finger at somebody, and they need a scapegoat. I'm definitely being targeted. That's not a surprise."
Ron Tata's sister, Jessica Tata, 22, is a wanted fugitive, who is believed to have fled to Nigeria last weekend following Thursdya's fire at the Houston day care center, called Jackie's Child Care, that she ran from her home.
Ron Tata would not confirm his sister's whereabouts and said that he had no idea where she was staying.
"We assume Jessica's not calling us to protect us. I don't even know if she's alive right now," he said. "She is family, but she is a grown adult, and we can't be accountable for her actions."
Jessica Tata: 'My Kids Are Dying'
Jessica Tata faces seven charges of reckless bodily injury to a child and three charges of child endangerment. The U.S. Marshals are assisting investigators in tracking down the wanted fugitive.
Ron Tata last spoke to his sister in the hospital after the fire.
"She kept saying, my kids are dying, my kids are dying. She was just really heartbroken," Ron Tata said. "We are all devastated. ... This is just the worst thing that could happen to any family."
Ron Tata described his sister as someone who loved children. Jessica Tata babysat kids throughout her teens, he said. He said that she started taking care of children through the family's church and later started her own day care.
"She had a relationship with all the parents, and they had a relationship with her. Her business was mostly through referral. They would have Bible study there. She would teach them, she would feed them," Ron Tata said.
"Right now, it doesn't seem like a loving person, but she's a really loving person," he said.
Jessica Tata had left the seven children, who ranged in age from 15 months to 3 years, to run an errand at Target. The fire started from oil burning in a pot on the stove, according to court documents.
Witnesses saw her arrive by car to the Houston home after the fire started, according to court records. She could be heard screaming, witnesses told the Houston Fire Department.
Jessica Tata was rushed to the hospital following the fire but was later released. Houston authorities never interviewed her before she fled the country. She was too ill to be interviewed at the scene of the fire or in the hospital and refused to talk when arson investigators arrived at her home the day after the fire.
Tuesday District Attorney Pat Lykos denied that her team had botched the investigation into the day care fire. She pleaded with Jessica Tata to turn herself in.
"If you cared at all about those children, then return," Lykos said in Tuesday's press conference.