Law Enforcement Concludes Fruitless Landfill Search for Zuzu Verk; Reward Increases to $200,000

Over the weekend, law enforcement officers in West Texas finished searching landfills in Alpine, Presidio and Odessa without finding any sign of missing Sul Ross University student Zuzu Verk. Monday, the Alpine Police Department increased the reward for information to $200,000, raised entirely through private donations.

Verk graduated from Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth and went to the University of North Texas before transferring to Sul Ross to study biology. She vanished on Oct. 12 following a trip to the movies with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Robert Fabian.

Search warrants released by Alpine police say they believe Verk went back to Fabian's apartment before disappearing. Fabian, who's hired a lawyer and is not talking to police, was officially named a suspect in Verk's disappearance late last week. Several members of Fabian's family are also considered "persons of interest," according to the department.

During the early morning hours of Oct. 12, according to police, Fabian borrowed a Ford F-150 pickup truck. Police have searched that truck, a Ford Mustang that Fabian rode in Oct. 12 and a laptop that Fabian left with Joshua Cobos, who then turned the laptop over to police. Cobos told police that that Fabian said the laptop contained "items that Fabian wanted to delete from social media."

The Texas Attorney General's office has taken the case over from local prosecutor Rod Ponto, who recused himself from the investigation last Wednesday. The team from the attorney general's office handling the case, Adrienne McFarland and Geoff Barr, are expected to convene a grand jury to investigate the case as early as this week.

“The family knows more information and we need them to tell us,” Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown said of Fabian's family, according to Midland-Odessa TV station KOSA last week. “If they won’t tell us, then we will bring them before a grand jury and hopefully we can get the information from them that way.”
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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