Two men and one woman, all missing with their trails gone cold, were memorialized Tuesday in a ceremony at Healing Place Church by family members and friends who still desperately want to find them, or at least find out what happened to them.
“It’s cold,” said Ashley Marks, whose husband, Troy Marks, disappeared five years ago. “I’m hoping that this will generate leads.”
Marks’ disappearance is one of 109 cold cases — all but eight are missing persons — that the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons, also known as CUE, is highlighting on an eight-day tour of 10 states. Eight of the cases are unsolved murders, CUE officials said.
It’s the eighth year CUE has undertaken the tour.
Loved ones launched balloons and lantern balloons — balloons with gas-fueled lights in them — into the autumn blue late-afternoon sky at the end of Tuesday’s ceremony.
Beside family and friends of the Marks, also present Tuesday were coworkers and students of Sylviane Lozada, the Brusly High School teacher reported missing in East Baton Rouge Parish in July, and Kenny Fell, uncle of Shane Fell, who got into a single-car accident in Marrero on June 10 and hasn’t been seen since.
Troy Marks, though, is CUE’s “tour honoree” this year, meaning his situation is being especially highlighted.
He was last seen on June 6, 2006, in New Orleans where he was working while living in a halfway house in Gretna, his wife said.
A month later, his company vehicle was found in the parking lot of a Baton Rouge apartment building, Ashley Marks said. Its windows had been shot out, she said.
Marks said her former husband was a recovering drug addict who might have relapsed before he disappeared.
Marks told the Healing Place audience her husband’s addiction was hard, but he was a good father to their sons, Troy, 10, and Jacob, 9.
“I still think about him a million times a day,” she admitted, but said she doesn’t let it take over her life anymore.
She said she feels she still has a family responsibility to find out the truth.
“I’m doing this for my kids,” she said.
Her oldest son, Troy, talked about hearing other boys talk at length about how great their dads are only to then turn their attention to him.
“They come to me and ask, ‘What’s your dad do?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know. Can’t tell you,” the boy said sadly.
Monica Caison, who started CUE in 1994 after meeting families of missing persons, told about 100 people gathered at Healing Place that vigilance like theirs can produce results.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “I’ve seen cases 20 or 30 years solved because of meeting somebody and an information exchange.”
Brusly High faculty and students came to highlight Lozada, who taught Spanish and French at the school.
Authorities started looking for Lozada, 51, on July 18 when she was reported missing after her relatives in Belgium could not get in touch with her.
Authorities have said that foul play is a possibility based on physical evidence obtained from her home.
Her 5-year-old daughter, Angelina Lozada, and Sylviane’s husband and the girl’s father, Oscar Lozada, boarded a plane in Dallas destined for South America on July 9, authorities have said. They were scheduled to return to the United States on July 14, but did not. They are presumably in Venezuela where the husband is from.
Debbie LaPrairie, a librarian at Brusly High, said word of possible foul play against her colleague took her by surprise.
“She was so private,” LaPrairie said.
Ashley Marionneaux, a 17-year-old Brusly High senior who took Spanish from Lozada as a sophomore, said it’s tough as more and more time passes without any breakthroughs.
“It’s hard to have hope when you don’t know anything,” she said.