Fort Worth

Boyfriend of Zuzu Verk indicted on murder charge in her death

Robert Fabian, 26, left, was indicted on a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend, Zuzu Verk, 21.
Robert Fabian, 26, left, was indicted on a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend, Zuzu Verk, 21. Courtesy of family (via WFAA)

The boyfriend of a Fort Worth woman whose remains were found in far West Texas last month was indicted Friday on a murder charge in her death, officials said.

Robert Fabian, 26, had faced a charge of tampering with a corpse after Zuzu Verk’s remains were found near Alpine, where she attended Sul Ross State University.

A grand jury indicted Fabian on the murder charge Friday morning, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said.

Verk, 21, went missing in October after going to Fabian’s apartment for a romantic dinner and a massage, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Verk is from far north Fort Worth, and she graduated from Timber Creek High School.

Fabian remained in the Brewster County Jail on Friday, and his bail amount was raised from $500,000 to $750,000, Dodson said.

The state attorney general’s office is handling prosecution of the case. Local district attorney Rod Ponton recused himself in October because he lost a primary election and was leaving office at the end of the year.

The attorney general’s office confirmed Fabian’s indictment but declined further comment.

Fabian’s friend, Chris Estrada, was also arrested in the case and charged with evidence tampering, a second-degree felony. He has not been indicted.

Body found in drop cloths

Verk’s remains were found in plastic painter’s dropcloths in a shallow grave near Alpine, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Fabian told police that he and Verk began to argue during their dinner the night of Oct. 11, and that when the disagreement grew “heated,” Verk left between 2 and 3 a.m.

The affidavit said Fabian called Estrada twice about 3:15 a.m. the night of Verk’s disappearance and stayed in contact with him throughout the day.

Estrada told police that he went to Fabian’s apartment later that day to paint a table. They decided to drink instead, the affidavit said.

At about 10:15 p.m., the two stopped by a Dollar General store, where Fabian bought three drop cloths, according to surveillance footage.

From about 10:40 p.m. to midnight, according to electronic data, Estrada was back at Fabian’s apartment. From about midnight to 12:20 a.m., Estrada was “at or near various commercial dumpsters in the area,” the affidavit said.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson confirmed that the remains of a body found northwest of Alpine were those of Zuzu Verk. (video courtesy WFAA)

‘Don’t ask questions’

Later, Estrada went to a friend’s house.

The friend opened her door and “observed Chris acting strange” and looking “very bothered to the extent that it scared her,” the affidavit said.

When she asked Estrada what was wrong, he told her, “I don’t want to get you involved. Don’t ask questions.”

She asked him if anything was “newsworthy,” the affidavit said.

Estrada shrugged and said, “If it is newsworthy, I didn’t do anything. I’m OK.”

When Verk’s disappearance became public Oct. 14, Fabian told a friend, “If I know a really big secret and two people know it, then the other has to be dead,” according to the affidavit.

Fabian then told his friend that he was joking.

Fabian later asked his friend if he could use his computer to delete certain Facebook posts that “did not look good as he was a suspect” in Verk’s disappearance, the affidavit says.

Police searched Fabian’s apartment and found no sheets or pillowcases on his bed. Investigators found one of the three drop cloths, but the other two were missing, the affidavit said.

At a memorial service Thursday in Alpine, Zuzu Verk’s father, Glen Verk, spoke of his daughter's love for the outdoors and conservation and how Sul Ross State University, a school in West Texas, was the perfect place to pursue her passions. Zuzu'