Autopsy confirms 'homicidal violence' as cause of death of Zuzu Verk

Published: Apr. 21, 2017 at 5:28 PM CDT
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An autopsy report completed by medical examiners for the Zuzu Verk investigation sheds new light on the case.

According to the report from the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas, no traumatic injuries were found during the autopsy.

Examiners also were not able to find evidence of any acute injuries on the remains present, the report states.

The findings didn’t surprise West Texas Dr. Richard Bartlett, who is certified in advanced trauma life support.

"They knew what did not kill her,” said Bartlett. “They saw that there was no fractures of the skull, there was no broken neck, bone, but that doesn't mean you can't have a problem with a vascular injury to the neck [or an] airway injury."

This means someone could've either suffocated or strangled Zuzu. Dr. Bartlett says these are injuries you wouldn't be able to find on a person’s bones.

"We know that a 22-year-old found in a shallow grave, unmarked, after a massive manhunt is not normal and certainly it's not suicide,” said Bartlett. “She was buried by someone else, so that leaves homicide."

Along with not finding any injuries, the report states that a postmortem toxicology came back as negative and that Zuzu showed no signs of any kind of natural disease.

According to the report, it was a combination of these findings that led examiners to believe that 'homicidal violence' was the cause of death for Zuzu.

The report also references investigative findings and suspicious circumstances surrounding her death as reasons for the cause to be declared a homicide.

Currently both Robert Fabian and Chris Estrada remain behind bars in connection with the case.

Fabian, who has been indicted for murder and tampering with evidence, currently has a bond of $925,000 and is at the Brewster County Jail.

Estrada, who has been indicted for tampering with evidence, has a bond of $500,000 and is at the Presidio County Jail.

You can find our full coverage of the Zuzu Verk investigation online


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