Alpine community holds memorial walk, vigil in honor of Zuzu Verk

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ALPINE, Texas (Nexstar)- October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a month set aside to raise awareness about the dangers of domestic violence and highlight resources available to anyone in an abusive situation.

To honor one of their own lost to domestic violence, the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend held a memorial walk and vigil for Sul Ross State University student Zuzu Verk, who was killed by her boyfriend Robert Fabian in 2016.

Verk was first reported missing on October 14, 2016. Her disappearance prompted a massive search by friends, family and multiple law enforcement agencies. Her then-boyfriend Robert Fabian was later named a person of interest in the case, but Fabian denied knowing anything about her disappearance. 

Then, on Feb. 3, 2017, a Border Patrol agent patrolling in a remote area of Brewster County located a set of skeletal remains in a shallow grave.

In an interview in 2017, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said after the remains were found, “In our hearts, we all knew. When I walked up there (to the scene where the remains were found) I just knew.”

Fabian was later charged with murder as well as tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Fabian’s friend, Chris Estrada, was also charged in connection with the case.

During Fabian’s trial, prosecuting attorneys played a video of a police interview with Fabian where Fabian described his relationship with Verk as a “rollercoaster”. He can also be heard in the interview saying, “I truly love this girl you know” and “I always treated her right.” Fabian told police that he and Verk argued during their dinner at his apartment the night of Oct. 11, 2016, and that when the disagreement grew “heated,” Verk left. 

During his trial, Fabian’s friend Estrada, who was sentenced to 42 months in prison on a tampering with evidence charge, testified that on the night of Verk’s disappearance, Fabian told him he needed to talk about something that was a “life and death matter.” 

According to Estrada, Fabian told him he and Verk had dinner before things got physical. Estrata testified that Fabian told him he had his hands around Zuzu’s throat when she started to hyperventilate and stopped breathing. Estrada then went on to say Fabian said he then tried to conduct CPR but was unsuccessful and that Verk had died and was still under the covers in his bedroom.

In May of 2019, Fabian was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life in prison. 

If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing domestic violence and is in need of help, the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend is available to help. You can call their hotline 24/7 at 1-800-834-0654. 

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