Human remains found Friday in a shallow grave near Alpine, Texas positively identified as missing college student Zuzu Verk
Verk, a 22-year-old biology student at Sul Ross State University, went missing on Oct. 12, 2012
Verks boyfriend Robert Fabian, 26, arrested in connection with her disappearance and likely death
Arraigned Monday morning Robert Fabian faces a charge of tampering with evidence by concealing or hiding a corpse, bail set at $500,000; additional charges are expected
Chris Estrada close friend of Fabian’s, also a suspect, records show the two talked repeatedly in the very early morning hours of the day Verk disappeared
Estrada reportedly, fled Texas ‘in the middle of the night’, but was arrested on a separate DUI, awaiting extradition back to Texas
Human remains found Friday in a shallow grave near Alpine, Texas have been positively identified as those of missing college student Zuzu Verk. her identity was established using dental records. Police believe the body had been buried at the spot of discovery, since Verk, a 21-year-old Keller woman who was studying biology at Sul Ross State University, went missing on Oct. 12 of last year.
Verk had been reported as missing when she failed to show up for work and a school exam. She was last seen alive the night of October 11, when she and boyfriend Robert Fabian attended the movies with a group of friends. Neighbors reported hearing the pair arguing that night.
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said it was the news officers were expecting from the moment they arrived at the scene where remains were found Friday.
“Without giving up too much, when we walked onto the scene immediately… knowing what we knew about the case — which we can’t reveal — when I walked up there, I just knew,” Dodson said. “I had to call the chief and said ‘I think we got her here.’
The missing student’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Robert Fabian, was arrested in connection to her disappearance Saturday morning
Dodson said he believes Verk had been buried in that spot since she disappeared.
Zuzu’s boyfriend, Robert Fabian, was arrested in connection to her disappearance Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after the remains were found. Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown explained that the investigation was leading toward arresting Fabian, the discovery of the remains expedited the arrest.
Fabian faces a charge of tampering with evidence by concealing or hiding a corpse. His bail was set at $500,000 when he faced a judge Monday morning. Additional charges are expected, police said.
Robert Fabian and girlfriend Zuzu Verk
Fabian who is also from Alpine area describes himself on social media as having studied chemistry at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, and was known to post inspirational memes to his Facebook page. He started dating Verk in January, 2016 and met her parents in April of that year.
He is the last person known to have seen Verk before she vanished on Oct. 12, police say, but shortly after her disappearance he hired a lawyer and refused to speak with police.
For the Verk family, the confirmation brought a rush of mixed emotions.
“It’s sense or relief, and sadness, sorrow, horror, ya know… a lot of emotions run through and they’re opposite of each other in many ways,” said Glenn Verk, Zuzu’s father.
Parents, Glenn and Lori Verk speak about the pain of missing their daughter daughter
Flowers at the site where the remains of 21-year-old Zuzu Verk was found. Police believe she has been buried at the spot since her disappearance four months ago
Lori Verk, who said she last saw her daughter on a shopping trip 10 days before she vanished, is eager for justice.
“We’ll lay her to rest and then, then we go after the consequences that need to be met,” said Lori. “How dare anyone do this.”
Police also announced Monday afternoon that a second arrest had been made in the case. Chris Estrada, a friend of Fabian’s who communicated with him the night Verk disappeared, was arrested Monday in Phoenix, Arizona.
Police say that Fabian called Estrada twice and that the two communicated using Snapchat on the night of Verk’s disappearance and later borrowed his Ford Mustang. Estrada was initially a person of interest in the case but was considered a suspect after the remains were found near Alpine. Police say Estrada had recently relocated to Arizona.
“You can imagine in the middle of the night, what kind of hurry they were in to do what they did,” said Sheriff Dodson.
Arrangements were being made to bring Estrada back to Texas.
He was arrested for DWI last month in an unrelated incident.
Neighbors spoke to the media, recollecting the events of the night Zuzu Verk disappeared: “That night, we heard arguing,” said John Franco, who lives in the apartment underneath Fabian’s. “I can hear him pacing back and forth, in the kitchen, living room, all around all around.”
“Going down the stairs, we heard a loud thump. This is around four in the morning. I only wish we had done something,” he said.
Josh Cobos, who works at a local auto shop noted that Estrada came in to have his car detailed three times after Verk disappeared.
Suspects: Zuzu’s boyfriend Robert Fabian [Right] and Chris Estrada [Left]
A memorial service for Verk is scheduled for Thursday at Sul Ross State University.
In lieu of flowers, the Verk family has asked for donations to be sent here:
Zuzu Verk Memorial Scholarship Fund in Natural Resource Management