Fort Worth

Jury selection begins for man accused of murder of Fort Worth student Zuzu Verk

Zuzu Verk’s father shares memories of his daughter’s ‘Wonderful Life’

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'
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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'

Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of a man accused in the 2016 slaying of Zuzu Verk, a Fort Worth woman who attended Sul Ross State University in Alpine.

Verk’s remains were found in plastic painter’s drop cloths in a shallow grave near Alpine in far west Texas, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

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

Verk’s boyfriend, Robert Fabian, is charged with her murder.

The case is being prosecuted by attorneys with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the trial has been moved to Caldwell County after a change of venue motion was granted by the court.

verk fabian 1
Robert Fabian, left, is on trial for murder in the death of his girlfriend, Zuzu Verk, 21. Courtesy of family (via WFAA)

Fabian’s friend Chris Estrada was also arrested in the case and charged with evidence tampering, a second-degree felony. Estrada pleaded no contest and will be sentenced after Fabian’s trial.

Fabian told police that he and Verk began to argue during their dinner at his apartment the night of Oct. 11, 2016, 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. 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.

Verk’s remains were found in early 2017.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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Mitch Mitchell is an award-winning reporter covering courts and crime for the Star-Telegram. Additionally, Mitch’s past coverage on municipal government, healthcare and social services beats allow him to bring experience and context to the stories he writes.
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