Remains found in shallow grave identified as missing college student Zuzu Verk
The human remains found near Alpine last week were identified Monday as those of a Fort Worth woman who went missing from the far West Texas city in October, authorities said.
Zuzu Verk’s body was identified through dental records, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said Monday in a news conference that was broadcast on Facebook by WFAA-TV.
Dodson and Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown also said a second arrest had been made in the case.
Verk, a 22-year-old college student from north Fort Worth, went missing Oct. 12 after a date with Robert Fabian, 26, who lives in Alpine. He was arrested after the remains were found last week, on a warrant that accuses him of “tampering with or fabricating physical evidence by concealing a human corpse.”
“We anticipate additional charges soon” for Fabian, Scown said. Fabian appeared in court Monday, where his bond was set at $500,000, WFAA reported.
Fabian’s friend, Chris Estrada, was arrested Monday on a tampering with evidence charge, accused of concealing a corpse. Estrada, who was living in Alpine at the time of Verk’s disappearance, was arrested by police in Phoenix, Ariz., where he moved after a recent DWI arrest in Alpine, Dodson said.
Verk’s remains were found Friday scattered around a shallow grave near Alpine, where Verk attended Sul Ross State University. Dodson told reporters Monday that he believed Verk’s remains had been there since she went missing.
“It’s a disgrace,” Dodson said of the burial site. “And to think that in such a shallow grave, that the animals wouldn’t have eventually dug the body out — they weren’t thinking. I guess [the suspects] aren’t as smart as they think they are.”
Over the weekend, detectives searched Fabian’s sister’s house in Alpine and removed tools, shovels and soil, WFAA reported.
Several of Fabian’s relatives are still “persons of interest” in the case, Scown said, adding that more arrests “will eventually” be made.
“The finding of Zuzu opened up a lot of doors in this case,” Dodson said. “Why was she killed and exactly how? “Those are the big questions now.”
Verk’s remains were identified by officials with the medical examiner’s office in Dallas, Dodson said.
On Sunday, Verk’s father, Glenn Verk, released a statement thanking family, friends and the community for their support, according to media reports.
“As our family awaits the likely news that our worst fears have been realized, our sorrow has grown alongside a sense of relief from the constant state of not knowing,” Glenn Verk said. “Zuzu has been a bright light in our lives. It has been our greatest challenge to go forward these last months without her joyous laugh, fierce idealism and heart-melting smile, knowing we may all never have them again.
“We will be forever changed, but not ruined. We appreciate your respect and time as we begin the healing process. As we carry on, we look forward to the day we witness justice delivered for Zuzu.”