A 2nd suspect was extradited to Texas on Tuesday to face charges in connection with Zuzu Verk; a Texas woman whose remains were found last week in a shallow grave.
Chris Estrada, who was in Phoenix, waived extradition. He was taken into custody without incident. According to police, Estrada was friends with Verk’s boyfriend, Robert Fabian, whose also been arrested in connection with the 21-year-old’s death. As of Tuesday, both are charged with tampering with evidence by concealing a human corpse. It’s still unclear if more charges will follow.
Authorities report that new evidence was uncovered in the case. According to the arrest affidavit, Estrada was seen at the Alpine, Texas, Dollar General on October 12, the day ZuZu disappeared. Estrada told police that he went into the store with Fabian to buy painter’s drop cloths. A receipt indicated that Estrada bought three cloths. Detectives search Fabian’s home and found two cloths. One was missing.
A witness came forward and told detectives that Verk’s car was parked in the apartment complex where Fabian lives on the night she disappeared. The witness, who also lives in the complex, said that around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., she heard loud noises coming from Fabian’s apartment. The sounds were so loud that it woke her (the witness) up. Later, she awoke again to Fabian’s shower running and more loud noises.
It was reported that Verk, 22, was last seen in the early hours of October 12, 2016, after spending a night out with her friends and Fabian. Fabian told police officials that he and Verk got into a heated argument at his apartment about his ex-girlfriend on the night she disappeared but claimed she left. However, a neighbor stated that he saw Verk’s car parked outside all night and morning.
The neighbor added that Fabian left the following morning in his jeep but his girlfriend’s car was still outside, which was unusual as she would always leave before he left for work.In the middle of the night, the neighbor stated that “loud noises” were coming from Fabian’s apartment.
It was reported that Fabian used his “friend Chris Estrada’s credit card to buy painting clothes on the night Zuzu disappeared.” When the remains of the Texas student was recovered, “thin plastic sheets that were consistent with the plastic painter’s drop cloths purchased by Robert at the Dollar General” were found.
Last year, the victim’s father, Glenn Verk, stated that his daughter’s boyfriend was not being cooperative.
“When someone you care about is missing, don’t you help? I drove all night as soon as I heard Zuzu was missing, and when I got there, a search was already in progress. Everyone wanted to help, but he [Verk’s boyfriend] wasn’t there.”
Within a week of Zuzu’s disappearance, police offered a $7,500 reward for her safe return and by the end of the month, a $200,000 reward was offered. A border patrol agent found the missing woman’s body on Monday in a shallow grave about 200 miles southeast of El Paso.
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson called the incident 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.”
The victim’s cause of death is pending.
[Featured Image: Alpine Police Department & Family Handout]