ALPINE, Texas (AP) — Human remains found in a shallow West Texas grave last week have been identified conclusively as those of a missing college student, investigators confirmed Monday.
Dental records helped confirm the identity of Zuzu Verk, a 22-year-old Sul Ross State University student from Keller, a Fort Worth suburb, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said during a Monday news conference.
Verk had been reported as missing since Oct. 12, when she failed to show up for work and a school exam. She was last seen alive the night before, when she and boyfriend Robert Fabian attended the movies together. Neighbors reported hearing the pair arguing that night.
Fabian, 26, of Alpine, was jailed on a charge of tampering with evidence by concealing a human corpse but other charges were expected, Dodson said. Bond was set at $500,000. His attorney did not return messages Monday from The Associated Press.
Verk’s remains were found Friday scattered near a shallow grave near the remote West Texas college town of Alpine, about 200 miles southeast of El Paso.
“It’s a disgrace. 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 they aren’t as smart as they think they are,” Dodson said of whoever buried the body.
“Why was she killed? And exactly how? Those are the big questions now,” the sheriff said.
The report Monday from forensic pathologists performing the autopsy in Dallas merely confirmed what investigators were confident they already knew from what they found around the shallow grave, Dodson said.
“Knowing what we knew about the case, which we can’t reveal, when I walked up there, I just knew,” Dodson said. “I had to call the chief and said, ‘I think we got her here.'”
Chris Estrada, 28, a friend of Fabian, was jailed Monday in Phoenix on a corpse concealment warrant from Texas, awaiting return. Investigators said Fabian called Estrada the night Verk disappeared. Members of Fabian’s family also remain under investigation, Dodson said.
It was unclear if Estrada has an attorney.
In a statement, Sul Ross State University officials said a memorial service has been scheduled for Thursday evening at the Alpine campus.
Monday’s disclosures shattered the fondest hopes and confirmed the grimmest fears of the Verk family.
“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, the victim’s father, said in a statement issued Monday.