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Zuzu Verk missing: Remains found in shallow grave likely missing student, cops say

ALPINE, Texas -- The boyfriend of a missing West Texas college student was arrested Saturday a day after remains believed to be his girlfriend were found in a shallow grave outside of Alpine, police said.

Robert Fabian, of Alpine, was arrested at a relative’s home on a charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence by concealing a human corpse, according to Alpine police Lt. Felipe Fierro.

Robert Fabian pictured in a mugshot KOSA

Sul Ross State University junior Zuzu Verk, 22 of Fort Worth, had been missing since Oct. 12 following a date with Fabian, police said. Fabian reported Verk missing two days later, and since then declined to cooperate with police, Fierro said.

Positive identification was pending on the remains discovered Friday by a Border Patrol agent. 

“Some of the information on the arrest affidavit shows that evidence at the scene, including human remains, have features that are consistent with Zuzu Verk,” Fierro said in a statement. The complete affidavit was expected to be released Monday, according to Fierro.

Formal identification was not expected until possibly next week, police said.

Verk’s mother Lori Verk told CBS affiliate KOSA she believes the remains are her daughter.

“It’s not over yet, not by a long shot,” Lori Verk told the station. “I want to find out exactly what, when, why, how, who — that’s what I want to find out.”  

In a statement released to local media, the Verk family thanked the community and said they “look forward to the day we witness justice delivered for Zuzu.” 

Robert Fabian and Zuzu Verk KOSA

“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,” the statement read. “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.”   

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said law enforcement personnel on foot searched the brushy area Saturday with the hope of recovering additional evidence. There, they uncovered additional remains  expected to be “crucial” to the identification and investigation, Dodson told the station. It was possible an animal had scattered the remains, he said.

“It’s a relief, I know for us and the family,” Dodson told the station. “We knew if we ever found her that there would be evidence at that scene that would really help us and sure enough it is.”  

He declined to elaborate on what other evidence was uncovered.

Fabian was being held Saturday at the Brewster County Jail, in Alpine. Bond was not immediately set, pending his appearance before a magistrate. An attorney for Fabian didn’t immediately return messages for comment Saturday.

A prosecutor from the state attorney general’s office would handle the case, according to Dodson, since the district attorney in office at the time of the disappearance finished his term at the end of 2016.

Alpine is 210 miles southeast of El Paso.

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