Oscar Lozada was looking ahead.
He was building a new life for himself in Mexico, settling down and finding financial success there — until authorities swooped in last month and accused him of murdering his wife in Baton Rouge seven years earlier and fleeing to Venezuela with their daughter.
Lozada is now being held in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison following an investigation that spanned the globe and tested the limits of international police work. Local detectives started tracking the suspect when Sylviane Finck Lozada disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 2011. He recently confessed to the murder after being extradited to Louisiana.
Investigators have shared few details about Lozada's life since his wife's disappearance and his departure, aside from a basic outline that included a move from Venezuela to Mexico in 2016. Interviews, public records and Mexican media reports paint a more complete picture of what preceded his arrest — including a recent marriage and steady work repairing cell phones.
Lozada lived with relatives in his Venezuelan hometown after he left the United States, raising his daughter and helping with family expenses. He then moved to Mexico amid worsening political and economic turmoil in Venezuela.
New neighbors in Saltillo had no reason to suspect an unsavory past. Acquaintances described him as polite and hard working, if somewhat mysterious.
When U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agents arrested Lozada in September, they also took custody of his daughter Angelina, now 12 years old. She has since been reunited with her mother's relatives and has gone to live with an aunt in Belgium, leaving authorities optimistic about the child's future.
Life in Mexico
Lozada arrived in Saltillo in 2016 — a city in northeastern Mexico about 150 miles from the U.S. border that boasts a robust automotive manufacturing industry including a General Motors plant. Saltillo’s metro area is a little larger than Baton Rouge’s with a population of 823,000 in 2010.
Lozada appears to have spent several months establishing himself there, leaving Angelina with relatives in Venezuela for more than a year before bringing her to join him.
By then he had married a local woman in Saltillo. He had also found steady work and appears to have had a lively social life.
"Apparently harmless, the man was arrested without his friends and coworkers knowing his true story," the local newspaper Zócalo reported in Spanish. "People close to the murderer stated that he never showed signs of unusual behavior."
In the months leading up to his arrest, Lozada had been working at a technology shop repairing cell phones, according to the newspaper. Other employees knew him as 'El Venezolano' or 'The Venezuelan' and said he had a reputation as a talented repairman.
His coworkers told local reporters that Lozada didn't say much. They considered him generally kind, though mysterious, and noted that he seemed a hard worker — descriptions that are included in an article under the headline: "The good neighbor who turned out to be a murderer."
Lozada got married in December 2017, almost seven years after Sylviane's disappearance, according to Mexican civil documents.
Three months later he and his new wife were photographed at a downtown karaoke bar on a Thursday evening. Pictures show Lozada singing until late that night, sometimes alone and sometimes with a group of people or a partner.
Angelina arrived in Mexico in July and was enrolled in school there, according to the local newspaper.
That's when investigators started planning Lozada's capture.
They had been tracking his whereabouts since he left the United States but were unable to execute an arrest while he was living in Venezuela because the country doesn't cooperate with U.S. law enforcement investigations. Authorities have said they also didn't act immediately when Lozada moved to Mexico on his own because they wanted to protect Angelina by taking her into custody following her father's arrest, which would have been impossible while she remained in Venezuela.
Oscar Lozada was back in Louisiana after his extradition from Texas on Friday afternoon and confessed at Louisiana State Police headquarters t…
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office detectives remained in direct contact with the suspect throughout most of their investigation — establishing a tenuous correspondence focused on his missing wife — but he stopped responding around the time he moved to Mexico. Lozada had agreed on two occasions to return to Baton Rouge for questioning but failed both times to board the plane.
Authorities said Lozada was a maintenance worker at a plant in the Baton Rouge area and Sylviane had moved to Baton Rouge from her native Belgium to earn her doctorate at LSU before becoming a French and Spanish teacher at Brusly High School. The couple married in 2006 and owned their home off Bluebonnet Boulevard, public records show.
Their life together included multiple reports of domestic abuse — at least two that ended with Sylviane in the hospital. Authorities said she declined to press charges against her husband out of fear that it would make matters worse. But her friends have said she had been documenting the instances of abuse on her own, with plans to file for divorce.
She never got that far.
Detectives found Sylviane’s blood in the couple's garage. Investigators also noted that Lozada had bought concrete mix and buckets just before leaving the country. Authorities have not recovered Sylviane's remains — or the buckets and concrete — despite extensive search efforts.
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Family in Venezuela
Public records show that Lozada, 43, was born in Mérida, a city of 213,000 in northwest Venezuela where most of his relatives still live and where he returned with Angelina in summer 2011.
Mérida sits along a river at the foot of the Andes mountains and is home to the world's highest and longest cable car route, according to online travel websites. Reviewers describe it as a university town and hub for outdoor adventure activities in Venezuela thanks to the surrounding mountainous landscape.
Lozada's mother is a university professor in the neighboring city of Ejido, according to social media accounts under her name.
Two of his relatives in Venezuela confirmed that he lived with family when he returned and started working as a cell phone repair technician.
Venezuela does not cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies, which allowed Lozada to evade capture even as investigators kept tabs on his whereabouts.
His brother Ruben Lozada said he wants others to know that Oscar Lozada made a horrible mistake — creating tragedy for his entire family — but never displayed similar violent tendencies in other aspects of his life. The brother also expressed sympathy for Sylviane's relatives who "have lived a different hell."
Oscar Lozada had come to the United States as a young man in pursuit of the "American dream" living first in New York and later making his way to Baton Rouge for a job offer. His brother said he was devoted to his daughter, who experienced a loving and supportive environment in Venezuela even after her life in the United States had been uprooted.
Authorities have also said she was going to school and experiencing relative stability in Mérida considering the country's political and economic climate, which has caused a humanitarian crisis due to food shortages and rising unemployment rates. Relations between the United States and Venezuela plunged in 2002 when socialist President Hugo Chavez accused American leaders of backing a failed coup attempt against him. That set the stage for escalating tensions that remain strong today.
People close to Lozada said he decided to move to Mexico — a country that does cooperate with U.S. law enforcement investigations — hoping to find better opportunities for himself and Angelina. Ruben Lozada wrote in Spanish that his brother is "a man who gave everything to his daughter, even his own freedom" as he could have continued evading arrest in Venezuela but instead "confronted his mistake."
Oscar Lozada is now being held without bail in Parish Prison facing one count of second-degree murder. Prosecutors have not yet officially charged Lozada in the case, possibly because investigators are still hoping to find Sylviane's remains. They have about four months to file charges.
'Finally … some closure'
Maj. Todd Morris, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's detective who led the investigation, said Friday that Angelina has moved to Belgium to live with her mom's relatives. He said she has a bright future ahead of her despite all that she's experienced.
Maj. Todd Morris treated the case like all the others he's investigated during his 28 years with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office,…
Ruben Lozada also said he is glad Angelina is safe and sound in Belgium because "she will have a better future there than in Venezuela … but everyone here misses her very much."
Angelina was first brought to Baton Rouge from Mexico, where she lived with a foster family for about a month. Sylviane's sister and brother also traveled here from Belgium and spent the month visiting with Angelina and seeing her through the custody process before taking her back to Belgium with them a couple weeks ago. Morris said Anglelina's aunt Ghislaine Finck was given custody of her niece.
He said Angelina has started school in Belgium and is "settling in fabulously" to her new home. Morris talks to her almost every day on FaceTime for 15 or 20 minutes, staying in close touch after years of working with Angelina's wellbeing in mind. He and his family have planned a trip to Belgium in December.
"Just hearing it in her voice and seeing it on her face, you can tell how happy she is to be there with family," Morris said. "We're so very relieved to finally have some closure from that part of the case."
For seven years, Ghislaine Finck waited in Belgium with no word about what happened to her older sister. During that time, Finck did, however,…