Seven years after a Belgian woman living in Louisiana went missing, authorities have arrested her husband and recovered the couple's daughter in an investigation that authorities described Friday as spanning three countries and requiring years of patient investigation.
Sylviane Lozada has not been seen since July 2011 when her husband left the country with the couple's then 4-year-old daughter, Angelina. Officials on Thursday filed an arrest warrant for second-degree murder for 43-year-old Oscar Alberto Lozada in his wife's death.
Then during an at-times emotional news conference in Baton Rouge, Officials on Friday announced that Lozada had been arrested in Mexico, was currently being held in Texas and was awaiting extradition to Louisiana. They said his daughter also had been recovered and was in Baton Rouge and soon to be reunited with family in Belgium.
"This is a very historic accomplishment," said East Baton Rouge Parish Sherriff Sid Gautreaux, praising his investigators' work. "This case was a prime example of the fact that there are no cold cases."
In an affidavit accompanying the warrant, investigators detailed Lozada's last days before leaving the country. Investigators said they believe Lozada killed his wife and disposed of her remains in an unknown location; her body has still not been found. Local media reported she was a teacher in Brusly, a town across the Mississippi River from where the family lived just outside of the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge.
The last time anyone communicated with Sylviane, a Belgian citizen married to her husband for about six years, was a July 5, 2011, conversation between Sylviane and her mother in Belgium, the affidavit said.
The next day, her husband — an American and Venezuelan citizen — purchased two tickets to Venezuela, and then went to a home improvement store with their daughter where he bought concrete, buckets and luggage locks; then the two went to a pizza parlor, the affidavit said. The next day he went back to the store and bought six large plastic bins. The same day he texted his boss that he'd be gone for a few weeks for surgery, and the next morning he asked three people to go to his house and pack up his things. Authorities said that in his hurry to leave town he even gave one of them his SUV.
Then on July 9, 2011, Oscar Lozada and his daughter left the country. He later left a message with a neighbor saying he was out of town with his wife and daughter. Authorities say only his and his daughter's passports were used.
When authorities later searched his house and garage, they reported they found Sylviane's blood on the garage floor, window, wall and ceiling. Authorities also detailed abuse they say Sylviane suffered and said she'd been documenting the abuse in preparation to divorce her husband.
The lead detective in the case, Todd Morris, detailed in the news conference how he had maintained contact with Oscar over the years through email and telephone while he was in Venezuela, a country where he could not face extradition. Two times, Morris said, they were so close to getting him to come back to the U.S. They went so far as to purchase airline tickets for him and his daughter but he stopped short of getting on the plane.
Then in mid-2016, Morris said, Oscar stopped communicating.
It wasn't until 2017 that he received information Oscar had moved to Mexico — possibly to find work — and investigators, working with Mexican authorities, started monitoring his movements. Then a few weeks ago was the break they'd been hoping for — news that now 12-year-old Angelina — had moved from Venezuela to Mexico to live with him.
"It was a constant roller coaster," Morris said.
Eventually, Morris said, Mexican authorities picked up Angelina at her school and, after monitoring Oscar, picked him up as well.
At one point, Morris began to choke up as he described being called by Mexican authorities this week, telling him to be at the border because Angelina was going to be transferred. Morris said he did not know what Angelina's father had told her but said she'd been seen by a child psychologist.
"There's a lot of emotions there that we have to deal with," he said.
It's not known if Oscar Lozada has a lawyer.
Follow Santana on Twitter @ruskygal.