More than seven years after the disappearance of Brusly High School teacher Sylviane Finck Lozada, authorities now allege her husband is responsible for her death.
The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office on Thursday filed an arrest warrant for Oscar Alberto Lozada, 43, on a count of second-degree murder.
Investigators believe he killed his wife before leaving the country in 2011 with their young daughter. According to the warrant, neither has returned to the U.S. and authorities say they lost contact with the man two years ago.
The warrant says investigators found blood in the garage of the couple's home in at least nine spots, including three walls and the ceiling. All the samples were identified as Sylviane Lozada's blood, the warrant says.
"The blood on the ceiling is consistent with wet blood traveling through the air and striking the ceiling," the warrant says. "This would have been done with enough force to propel the blood vertically to impact the ceiling."
Records show the relationship between a missing Brusly High School teacher and her husband had been strained in the past.
Investigators have still not located the body of Sylviane Lozada, a Belgian citizen who lived in Baton Rouge with her husband and child; however, deputies note that no one has heard from her or seen her since July 5, 2011.
"Sylviane was a devoted mother and daughter who would not have abandoned her daughter and family," the warrant says. "Sylviane spoke to her mother daily (in Belgium) because of her mother's declining health."
It was not immediately clear what happened in the case to bring about the new arrest warrant. The evidence presented in the document seems to have been years old.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks declined to comment on any details of the case Thursday, but said they hope to release more information soon.
Even without specific updates or an arrest made, Brusly High School Principal Walt Lemoine said the latest news brings a sense of hope to their community. He said teachers were buzzing with the news on Thursday.
"Just the fact that something came up today, that means they're still working," Lemoine said. "Possibly, there could be some closure."
Sylviane Lozada, who taught French and Spanish at Brusly High for more than a decade, was reported missing in July 2011. Her disappearance coincided with her husband and young daughter leaving the country for South America. Despite tickets to return to the U.S. from Oscar Lozada's home country of Venezuela, the man and girl have never reentered the U.S., the warrant says.
Brusly High School teachers plan to gather for a faculty-only prayer vigil on Tuesday in remembrance of their missing colleague.
The warrant details three incidents in which Oscar Lozada is accused of violence against his wife in the two years before her disappearance. In July 2009, deputies spoke to the family at a hospital where Oscar Lozada admitted he "snapped" during an argument and struck his wife, the warrant says. In the second incident more than a year later, Sylviane Lozada called deputies to their home because her husband was throwing and breaking items. Then in December 2010, deputies found Sylviane Lozada in the hospital for an injury she said her husband caused, but asked authorities to not contact him because "that would make matters worse," the warrant says. He was never arrested in any of these incidents.
Few details about the investigation had been previously released to the public, despite local and international attention — though officials have consistently said foul play was suspected.
Family members last heard from Sylviane Lozada on July 5, 2011, when she called her mother in Belgium, the warrant says. The following morning, Oscar Lozada purchased two round trip tickets to Caracas, Venezuela.
That same day, July 6, 2011, Oscar Lozada and their 4-year-old daughter went to Lowe's Home Improvement, video surveillance shows, where he bought 15 bags of concrete mix and nine 5-gallon buckets with lids and luggage locks, the warrant says. The following day, he returned to Lowe's and purchased six large plastic bins.
In the days after Sylviane Finck Lozada disappeared in July 2011, detectives seized several items from the Brusly High School teacher’s home, …
Also on July 7, 2011, Oscar Lozada texted his boss saying he would be out of work for two to three week for surgery, the warrant says. He also initially told the Sheriff's Office in 2011 that he went to Venezuela for medical reasons.
Then, on July 8, 2011, Oscar Lozada asked three friends to load up a small U-Haul truck with contents from his family's home and put them in a specific storage facility, the warrant says. Those individuals told investigators there was no sign of Sylviane Lozada at the home at that time, except for her vehicle parked outside.
"In his haste to leave town, Oscar gave one of the cooperating witnesses his vehicle, a Nissan Xterra," the warrant says. A previously filed court document says he asked the friend to sell it and send him the proceeds.
On July 9, 2011, at 10:06 a.m., Oscar Lozada and his daughter boarded a flight to Dallas. At 2:05 p.m., they boarded a flight to Caracas, Venezuela, the warrant says.
Two days later, he deleted his Facebook account and left a voice message on a neighbor's phone, saying he was out of town with both his wife and daughter. Investigators confirmed that only Oscar Lozada and his daughter used their passports to leave the country. Since July 2011, there has been no financial activity on Sylviane Lozada's bank account or credit card, the warrant says.
The Brusly High School teacher reported missing more than two weeks ago was planning on leaving her husband, a friend and coworker said.
East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s investigators wrote in the warrant that they had been in contact with Oscar Lozada after his wife's disappearance through telephone calls and emails. He initially told detectives he did not know her whereabouts and that he noticed her missing when he returned returned from the store, the warrant says.
He also told authorities he would return with their daughter to Baton Rouge to meet with detectives about the case. Twice investigators bought plane tickets for such a trip, but they never boarded the flights, the warrant says.
Investigators lost contact with him in 2016.
Oscar Lozada had not been publicly named a suspect in the case before Thursday, but investigators did question his behavior in the time before and after her disappearance.
Authorities were never able to find the buckets or bags of concrete mix he bought days before leaving the country. They were unable to locate any area where he might have utilized the materials, like a new construction site, the warrant says.
The Lozadas had been married for six years before the disappearance. A friend told The Advocate in 2011 that Sylviane Lozada had planned to file for divorce.
It was not clear Thursday if the Sheriff's Office had a plan to arrest Oscar Lozada. Venezuela's constitution prohibits the extradition of Venezuelan nationals, like Oscar Lozada. He is both a citizen of the U.S. and Venezuela, the warrant says. The couple's daughter, Angelina, is a U.S. citizen.
Sylviane Lozada's close friend Linda Hooper-Bui, an associate professor in environmental sciences at LSU, responded to the news Thursday, saying her focus is solely on Angelina, and the girl's safety, happiness and success in life.
"I want Angelina to know that Sylviane’s family loves her and is waiting for her with open arms," Hooper-Bui wrote in an email. "Angelina has so many people in Baton Rouge who love her and want to help her progress to be the best she can be in life. … I loved her mother deeply and I love her deeply."
Hooper-Bui said that as far as she knows, Angelina is safe.
Lemoine said Sylviane Lozada's memory continues to live on through a college scholarship Brusly High School awards yearly in her name, as well a garden dedicated to her on the school's property.
"She was tough, demanding, but she wanted the best for her students," Lemoine said. "She made you better."
Advocate staff reporter Joe Gyan Jr. contributed to this report.