Chris Estrada arrested in Valley for helping to hide the body of a Texas college student

Posted at 1:57 PM, Feb 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 08:41:44-05

A man accused of helping to hide the corpse of a West Texas college student has been arrested in the Phoenix area. 

Alpine police Lt. Felipe Fierro says Chris Estrada waived extradition Tuesday from Phoenix, where he was arrested a day earlier in the investigation of the death of Zuzu Verk.

The 21-year-old student at Sul Ross State University in Alpine had been missing since Oct. 12.

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.

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 faces a similar corpse concealment charge.


For more, tune into Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen on Thursday, February 9 at 3 p.m. on ABC15.