ALPINE, Texas – What a man says was supposed to be a romantic dinner and back massage with his girlfriend ended with the woman missing and later found dead, according to police affidavits released Tuesday.
Those actions included the purchase of three large plastic sheets usually used by painters as drop cloths. Sheets similar to those bought at an Alpine variety store were found with human remains found scattered around a shallow grave in the wilderness outside Alpine in West Texas. Analysis of dental records confirmed that the remains were those of Zuzu Verk, a 21-year-old Sul Ross State University Student from the Fort Worth, Texas, suburb of Keller.
Charged with second-degree felony evidence tampering by concealment of a corpse are Verk's 22-year-old boyfriend Robert Fabian and Fabian's 28-year-old friend Chris Estrada. Fabian remained in Brewster County's jail in Alpine on Tuesday with bond set at $500,000. Estrada, who was arrested in Arizona on a similar corpse concealment charge, waived extradition Tuesday and is being returned to Texas.
According to the search warrant affidavits released Tuesday by the Alpine Police Department, Fabian told investigators that he had invited Verk to his Alpine apartment the night of Oct. 11 for a romantic dinner and a back rub. He said they had a heated argument over comments he made about an ex-girlfriend, and that he escorted Verk to the front door between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Oct. 12. However, when later confronted with a neighbor's statement that Fabian had left his apartment early the morning of Oct. 12, Fabian said he left Verk at his apartment about 3 a.m. to drive to a Dairy Queen to ponder the future of their relationship. He said he returned to his apartment, escorted her out and watched her leave.
Meanwhile, neighbors who live in an apartment below Fabian's reported hearing the argument between him and Verk. They noted that Fabian played a movie very loudly on his television between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Oct. 12, then saw Fabian leave alone in his Jeep about 4 a.m. Oct. 12 and was still gone as of 10:30 a.m., while Verk's car remained parked outside the apartment.
Estrada told investigators that he drove Fabian to an Alpine variety store the evening of Oct. 12 and let Fabian use his credit card to buy plastic drop cloths. Electronic data from his remote computer showed Estrada was at Fabian's apartment from 10:40 p.m. to 12 a.m.
After the disappearance, Fabian spent his nights on his sister's couch instead of at his apartment, something friends found odd, according to the affidavits. One friend quoted him as saying after news of Verk's disappearance became public, "If I know a really big secret and two people know it, then the other has to be dead." Seeing the statement frightened the friend, Fabian then said he was only joking, according to an affidavit.
On Friday, a Border Patrol agent last Friday found Verk's remains in and around a shallow grave, along with plastic drop cloths, near Alpine, about 200 miles southeast of El Paso. A cause of death was pending Tuesday for Verk. That same day, investigators serving a search warrant confiscated digging tools and soil samples from the home of Fabian's sister.