A group of about 25 educators gathered Tuesday under a cloudless sky in front of Brusly High School to pray for their missing coworker, Sylviane Lozada.
Some spoke words of hope and encouragement while others listened and shed tears for the 51-year-old Belgian woman reported missing July 18.
Authorities said Monday that foul play is a possibility in the case.
“Wherever Sylviane is today, God is going to reveal that to us and how she got there,” said Connie Brown, a Brusly High teacher who helped organize Tuesday’s event. “The key is to pray and be patient and leave it in the Lord’s hands.”
Diane Brue, another one of Lozada’s coworkers, sobbed as Brown spoke.
“It’s going to be difficult to come back to work next week and not see Lozada’s face,” she said of the foreign language teacher who started her career at Brusly High a dozen years ago. “Sylviane is a beautiful person inside and out.”
Nancy Cipriano, whose classroom adjoins Lozada’s classroom, said the first day of school on Aug. 12 will not be the same if the missing teacher isn’t there.
“A lot of students I’ve talked to are in disbelief,” Cipriano said. “I think the realization will hit if she’s not standing outside her door handing out hugs next Friday.”
Cipriano said the gravity of Lozada’s situation didn’t sink in for her until Tuesday’s prayer service.
“It brought things into perspective,” she said. “I never thought anything like this would happen to someone I know.”
Authorities started looking for Lozada more than two weeks ago when she was reported missing after her relatives in Belgium could not get in touch with her.
Physical evidence obtained from Lozada’s home at 2234 Springlake Drive supports possible foul play in the case, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said Monday.
In addition, detectives discovered that Lozada’s husband, Oscar Lozada, 36, on or about July 6 purchased multiple gray five-gallon buckets with lids and multiple yellow and black bags of Quickcrete concrete mix, Hicks said.
The buckets and bags of concrete mix have not been found, she said.
Hicks said Oscar Lozada has not been named a suspect in his wife’s disappearance.
Sylviane Lozada’s last contact with her family was around July 5, Hicks said.
Oscar Lozada, and the couple’s daughter boarded a plane in Dallas destined for Venezuela on July 9, Hicks said. They were scheduled to return July 14, but they have not returned, she said.
Detectives have reason to believe Sylviane Lozada might have been inside her husband’s bright-yellow, 2001 Nissan Xterra on July 5 or 6, Hicks said.
Hicks said Sylviane Lozada would not have been driving the vehicle, but Hicks was unsure where she might have been inside the vehicle.
Libby Neighbor, a colleague of Sylviane Lozada’s who attended Tuesday’s prayer service, said she was not aware of any marital problems between Sylviane and Oscar Lozada despite Sheriff’s Office reports that show the relationship between the two had been strained in the past.
“As far as I knew, everything was fine,” said Neighbor, who attended the couple’s wedding about five years ago.
Joy Comeaux, a secretary at Brusly High, also attended Sylviane and Oscar Lozada’s wedding and was not aware of any problems between the two.
But, Comeaux said, Sylviane Lozada “was a private person,” who mostly talked about her 5-year-old daughter, Angelina.
“I’ve never seen a mother so devoted,” Comeaux said. “That’s what hurts me the most.”
Neighbor agreed and said Sylviane Lozada is the most “caring, loving, sacrificial mother I’ve ever seen.”
West Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent David Corona said he has found a replacement to teach Sylviane Lozada’s Spanish and French classes.
“It will be the happiest day in my life if I find that position double staffed,” he said.
Brusly High Assistant Principal Julie Mayeux said counselors will be at the school next week when students start their classes.
Mayeux also said there will be a community prayer service at 7 p.m. Monday that will begin inside the High School’s gym.
Cipriano said the community wide prayer service is called “Carrying the light for Sylviane” and that people should bring a candle and wear white and a yellow ribbon.
Sylviane Lozada’s sister, Gillian Paquet, declined to comment Tuesday when a call was made to her Belgium home.
Paquet said last week during a telephone interview that her family did not know what happened to Sylviane Lozada.
“It’s terrible,” Paquet said. “We work all the time to try to find her. We are very, very concerned.”
Lozada is about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. She has brown hair and green eyes.
Anyone with information about Sylviane Lozada’s whereabouts or anyone who remembers seeing her husband’s bright yellow, 2001 Nissan Xterra on July 5 or 6 is asked to contact the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office at (225) 389-5000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at (225) 344-7867.