Finding Zuzu: Investigators expect to present case to grand jury soon

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ALPINE -- We will be updating this blog with the latest information on the search for missing Alpine student Zuzu Verk.

Wednesday 11-9 3:30PM Update: According to Alpine Chief of Police Russell Scown investigators are now hoping to present their case in front of a grand jury sometimes next week, though an exact date has not been decided.

The reward for information leading to finding Zuzu remains at $200,000.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 11-1 10:30AM Update: The recent raise in money for the reward for finding Zuzu came from H-E-B. According to a spokesperson the H-E-B/Central Market family is concerned for their employee Glenn Verk, Zuzu's father, and are fully committed to supporting the family in any way they can.

The commitment, which came from H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt, is an example of their commitment to bring Zuzu home, said the spokesperson.

H-E-B is declining interviews at this time out of respect for the family.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson tells CBS 7 that searches are now being focused to tips law enforcement receive. On Monday crews searched five different locations after receiving tips of suspicious circumstances, which turned out to be grass that had been pushed down after search teams had gone through the area previously.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Monday 10-31 2:30PM Update: The Alpine Police Department confirms that the reward for missing Alpine student Zuzu Verk has gone up to to $200,000 for any information leading to the whereabouts of Zuzu.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Friday 10-28 2:00PM Update: Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown tells CBS 7 that they are now working to set a date for the grand jury which may happen sometime Friday.

Chief Scown says that they are hopeful that the date will be sometime next week.

On Thursday Chief Scown told CBS 7 that they hoped to call a grand jury into session by early next week so that they can interview witnesses. including Zuzu's boyfriend Robert Fabian and his family.

On Friday crews from Brewster County were at a landfill in Odessa searching through trash from the City of Alpine for any evidence related to the disappearance of Zuzu Verk. According to Chief Scown crews have searched landfills in Alpine, Presidio, and Odessa as each location received trash from the area.

Investigators expect to finish the search of landfills sometime this weekend.

Thursday 10-27 3:00PM Update: Assistant Attorney General Geoff Barr of the Texas Attorney General's Office Criminal Prosecution Division has now arrived in Alpine and is working with investigators in the case.

As the investigation continues search crews keep up their efforts looking for Zuzu, now with assistance from Texas Aerial Photography and West Texas Ranch Realty who are assisting with drone searches.

Law enforcement continues to receive tips, each of which are followed up on by investigators.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Thursday 10-27 1:45PM Update: Personnel from the Texas Attorney General's office is set to arrive in Alpine Thursday to begin being briefed by law enforcement on the investigation.

Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown tells CBS 7 that they hope to call a grand jury into session by early next week so that they can interview witnesses. including Zuzu's boyfriend Robert Fabian and his family.

A grand jury will not be called until the attorneys in the case are brought up to speed.

Wednesday 10-26 6:00PM Update: According to the Alpine Police Department 83rd District Attorney Rod Ponton has made a motion to recuse his office and appoint Adrienne McFarland and Geoff Barr of the Texas Attorney General's Office to provide continuity of the investigation.

Alpine Police Chief Scown says that they are looking for continuity as Ponton is set to leave office in 2017.

Wednesday 10-26 4:30PM Update: The Texas Attorney General's Office has now officially become involved with the case, according to the Alpine Police Department.

Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown says that now that the Attorney General is involved they will be able to put together a grand jury and compel witnesses, including Robert Fabian, Zuzu's boyfriend and now suspect in the case, to answer investigators' questions.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Wednesday 10-26 3:00PM Update: The boyfriend of Zuzu Verk, Robert Fabian, has officially been named as a suspect in the disappearance of Zuzu.

According to Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown, the change from Fabian being a Person of Interest to a suspect came after the investigation had progressed up to this point, including information learned 'from over 100 interviews'.

Chief Scown says that there are other Persons of Interest in the case that 'are mainly his (Robert Fabian's) family' as investigators believe they have more information about Zuzu's disappearance, but are not being cooperative with the investigation.

Investigator spoke with Fabian's mother and sister on Tuesday though Chief Scown could not disclose how the interviews went or what was discussed.

Chief Scown says that as of right now investigators are hoping Fabian appears with an attorney to answer questions and meet.

"We believe based on some of the interviews we've had that he (Fabian) may actually want to talk to us, but again his attorney is probably advising him not to do that," said Chief Scown.

"It's an open door, you know, please come in and help us find out where Zuzu is."

Scown added that while this part of the investigation has changed, search crews will continue their work and investigators are still following up on any and all leads they receive.

Chris Estrada, a friend of Fabian who has been named as a key witness has still not been cleared as of Wednesday after failing to be cleared by a polygraph test on Tuesday.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Wednesday 10-26 9:30AM Update: Crews are continuing the search for Zuzu in Brewster and Presidio County, with some efforts now being concentrated in the area of Redford.

As of Wednesday, two weeks since Zuzu was last seen, the Alpine Police Department says that search crews have covered over 500 square miles, with a combination of individual personnel having accumulated 1,714 miles so far.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 10-25 11:00PM Update: A prayer vigil has been set for missing Alpine student Zuzu Verk for Wednesday night.

The Rotaract Club, Open Care Club, and Student Support Services at Sul Ross State University will be holding the prayer outside the University Center at 7p.m. and hope to see the entire student body come out.

“Our goal is to come together as a student body and pray for the safe return of Zuzu Verk as well as extend our love and support to her family,” said Gunner Gardener, one of the organizers.

Gardner welcomes community members to attend the vigil as well.

Tuesday 10-25 10:00PM Update: On Tuesday crews were able to use a third drone in their search for Zuzu Verk.

One drone comes from RP Search Services based out of Wimberley, Texas and two others have been shared by the Reeves County Sheriff's Office.

Tuesday 10-25 10:00PM Update: A key witness in the disappearance of Zuzu Verk spoke with investigators Tuesday.

Chris Estrada, identified as a key witness by law enforcement, had his white Mustang impounded over the weekend as part of the investigation as a piece of its carpet was sent to a forensics lab in El Paso.

Estrada was questioned for roughly 4.5 hours while also taking a polygraph test. Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson says that the test did not clear Estrada from the investigation.

The mustang has now been returned to Estrada.

Tuesday 10-25 2:00PM Update: The Brewster County Sheriff's office is asking hunters to be aware of their surroundings this hunting season in the chance that they come across anything connected to Zuzu Verk.

Specifically BCSO asks that hunters be vigilant for anything 'that might indicate the earth may have been disturbed' and to look in areas of isolation, or anything that may need looking into.

Tuesday 10-25 10:30AM Update: According to the Alpine Police Department the search continues for Zuzu Verk throughout Brewster County and neighboring counties.

Two drones provided by the Reeves County Sheriff's Office and Texas Equusearch are now being used to search South Presidio County along the Rio Grande river and Northeast Brewster County north of Marathon near Sanderson in Terrell County.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 10-25 9:30AM Update: A vigil was held in the City of Keller Monday night as friends and family prayed that she will be found.

Candle light and music filled the air near Bear Creek, where Zuzu's friends had a message for her family.

"Just to show the support her family has back here in Keller as they're away in Alpine so that's really what I hope and prayer and love support and good energy," said Hannah Lewis, a friend of Zuzu.

Monday 10-24 5:00PM Update: Chris Estrada, a key witness in the case whose Mustang was impounded during the investigation will partake in questioning Tuesday morning, Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown tells CBS 7.

Chief Scown added that while he is coming in for questioning he has been cooperative with the investigators in the case.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson stated that they are also looking into a new lead in the case in the Marathon area, though he could not say what the lead was.

As investigation into the case continues crews remain in the area searching for Zuzu Verk daily.

Monday 10-24 2:15PM Update: In a Facebook post the owner of the white Mustang which law enforcement searched and took a piece of carpet from for evidence states that he has been cooperating fully with police, giving them his phone, GPS time line, and car.

Photos of the mustang were shared Sunday morning, with investigators asking for people who had seen the car to call them.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson confirmed that authorities took evidence from the carpet of the vehicle, which was sent to a forensics lab in El Paso.

Monday 10-24 2:00PM Update: Monday afternoon deputies with the Reeves County Sheriff's Office will be heading to the area of Marathon and other areas within Brewster and Presidio Counties to help with the search for Zuzu Verk.

The deputies will be using the office's drone, which will fly over a body of water and surrounding areas normally unreachable by foot.

Monday 10-24 9:45AM Update: According to Emergency Management Coordinator David Lambrix two drones will be used in the search for Zuzu Verk Monday.

Texas Equusearch left Alpine Sunday night after assisting with the search since Tuesday.

Lambrix says that one drone will be arriving from California, while another smaller drone is being loaned by the Reeves County Sheriff's Office to assist with the search.

Another search party is also expected to set out Monday.

Sunday 10-23 6:13PM Update: Sheriff Ronny Dodson confirms authorities took evidence from the carpet of the impounded White Mustang. Dodson says it was sent off to a forensic lab in El Paso.

Sunday 10-23 10:45 AM Update: Investigators released photos of a 2016 White Ford Mustang being driven between the hours of midnight Wed. October 12 through Thursday morning October 13th. Police ask if you saw the Mustang during that time to please call at 432-837-3486.

The vehicle is in custody at Alpine PD. The license plate number is HTV-1076.

"Investigators believe this vehicle is a key piece of evidence in this case."

Sunday 10-23 10:45 AM Update: The Alpine Police Department says that investigators have been reviewing hundreds of hours of surveillance video that was obtained from local businesses and citizens with CCTV access.

APD says these videos have provided 'key evidence' in this investigation, and also say they are reaching out to other local citizens who have CCTV surveillance cameras.

Anyone that may have video footage from the early morning hours of Wednesday October 12 are urged to call Alpine Police at 432-837-3486.

Saturday 10-22 7:05 PM Update: The Alpine Police Department is seeking additional information related to the disappearance of Zuzu Verk.

The Alpine Police Department has taken the truck from its location.

A search warrant has been obtained and a forensic team is now processing the vehicle for evidence.

Law Enforcement is seeking information about this vehicle’s movement during the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 12.

The vehicle is described a 2005 Ford F-150 grey in color and may have had the magnetic decals removed during the time in question.

If you have information, you are urged to contact Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Saturday 10-22 10:10 AM Update:Alpine Police say the search continues for Zuzu Verk after overnight leads developed in the search for the missing Sul Ross student.

Police say air, ground and professional searches are ongoing. They are encouraging anyone to continue to bring in tips.

Friday 6:00 p.m. update: Zuzu Verk's family spoke with CBS 7 reporter Amanda DeBerry on why they aren't giving up hope on finding their daughter, and how the Alpine community is helping them get through it all.

"We're sending our love, all I can say to her every time in my own head is 'I am sending my energy and my love, and I've realized how much community support we have from not just this town, but back home with our friends and family. It's just amazing," said Zuzu's mother Lori Verk.

"Just keep hanging on honey, cause we're looking for you, we will find you, we're almost there."

Friday 3:00 p.m. update: Sul Ross State University has announced that they will be holding a campus-wide meeting for faculty, staff and students to address safety and security at the school at 4:00 pm in the Morgan University Center Espino Conference Rooms.

Sul Ross State University will be livestreaming the meeting here.

Friday 2:30 p.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department the reward for missing Alpine student Zuzu Verk has gone up to to $100,000 for any information leading to the whereabouts of Zuzu.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Friday 2:00 p.m. update: According to the Alpine Avalanche, a prayer vigil will be held Friday evening in Alpine for Zuzu Verk and her family.

Friday 1:30 p.m. update: In the press conference held Friday morning Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown and Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson gave updates on both the search for Zuzu and the investigation of her disappearance.

Family members of Zuzu also spoke, thanking the community and law enforcement and asking Zuzu's boyfriend to talk with police.

"Robert, I'm asking to please help us, I haven't seen you yet, I've seen a lot of people helping. If you’d please come and cooperate with the police department, and help us and help them. I know that you love her, I hope that you do, and this would be a way to show it," said Glenn Verk, Zuzu's father.

Miles Verk, Zuzu's big brother, also spoke at the press conference with a message directed towards Zuzu's boyfriend.

"Robert, if you love Zuzu as much as you say you do and have told me over and over, you will come down here and you will help the police bring my sister home."

Zuzu's boyfriend has been listed as a Person of Interest in the case, but has not officially been identified by police.

A summary of that press conference can be found here.

Friday 9:00 a.m. update: Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson will be holding a press conference Friday morning in regards to missing Alpine student Zuzu Verk.

Dodson did not announce what will be discussed during the press conference, which will be held at 11:30 a.m.

You can watch that press conference on CBS 7 or online here.

Thursday 6:40 p.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department, the reward for any information leading to the whereabouts or safe return of Zuzu Verk has risen to $50,000.

Sul Ross State University President Dr. Bill Kibler released this statement on the search for Zuzu:

"During the past week, the uncertainty associated with the unknown has pervaded the usually-peaceful and safe environment the Sul Ross State University family enjoys. The disappearance of one of our students, Zuzu Verk, has deeply affected the entire campus community as well as Alpine and the surrounding area.

Sul Ross, along with the extended community, has responded admirably in various ways, particularly through extensive participation in the numerous searches undertaken in efforts to locate Zuzu. The active support and countless prayers are deeply appreciated by family and friends.

Throughout this crisis, we, as a university family, remain hopeful that this story has a happy ending. We pledge our continuous support and participation in the search for our friend and Sul Ross family member, Zuzu Verk."

Thursday 9:35 a.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department, additional agencies joined in the search for Zuzu Verk Thursday morning covering the newly expanded search area.

APD is following up on leads that have developed during the investigation and are continuing to receive tips on the case.

As of now APD is also continuing to interview witnesses.

Wednesday 7:00 p.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department, a GoFundMe page has been started to assist the Verk Family with costs. You can find that page here.

Wednesday 5:00 p.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department, it is estimated that search teams have covered over 200 square miles since the search began for Zuzu Verk.

APD is expecting additional personnel and resources to arrive Thursday in the Alpine area to assist with the search, with 120 personnel already assisting in the search as of Wednesday, not including specialized search and rescue teams.

Wednesday 12:10 p.m. update: At midday Wednesday investigators could be seen taking evidence out of the apartment belonging to Zuzu Verk's boyfriend.

According to Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson the boyfriend is listed as a Person of Interest in the case at this time. He has not been officially identified by authorities.

The boyfriend was taken in for questioning but later released after he got an attorney, Sheriff Dodson tells CBS 7.

According to authorities the boyfriend has not helped with the search for Zuzu.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m. update: The Alpine Police Department has announced that the search area for Zuzu Verk has been expanded to include the areas of Fort Davis, Marathon, Marfa, Presidio County, and South Brewster County.

Several law enforcement agencies are assisting with the expanded search, including DPS, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Forest Service, the Department of Corrections, the National Parks Service, and the DEA.

The reward for information leading to the whereabouts or safe return of Zuzu Verk has also been raised to $30,000.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 4:50 p.m. update: The Alpine Police Department has announced that they are now offering a $17,500 reward for information leading to the whereabouts or safe return of Zuzu Verk.

Earlier Tuesday morning the department announced that they would have a cash reward for any information leading to Zuzu's whereabouts or safe return.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 11:15 a.m. update: According to the Alpine Police Department crews have entered their fifth consecutive day of searching for Zuzu Verk in the Alpine area, with aircraft from US Customs and Border Protection assisting in the search.

Members of the Texas Equusearch, a mounted search and recovery team, are also expected to arrive in Alpine to assist in the search soon.

APD is asking the public to continue to provide any and all information that may lead to them locating Zuzu.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Tuesday 10:30 a.m. update: The Alpine Police Department has announced that they are offering a $7,500 reward for information leading to the whereabouts or safe return of Zuzu Verk.

Anyone with that information, or any other information related to the case is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at (432) 837-3486.

Monday 9:30 a.m. update: The Alpine Police Department states that no search party will be taking place Monday unless new leads are discovered in Zuzu's disappearance.

A volunteer search held Sunday lasted until 9 p.m.

"We will find here and it will be because of you and all these people and Alpine police," Verk's father said before the group of dozens set out to search on foot with dogs and backpacks. "I'm totally amazed."

Zuzu's father told CBS 7 he wants to get a message to his daughter, "you know how we feel about you and we all want you safe and we want you home as soon as you can get here. We all love you," he said.

Anyone with information on Zuzu's whereabouts is asked to contact the Alpine Police Department at Anyone with information call Alpine Police at (432) 837-3486..

Original Story: Zuzu Renee Verk, a student and employee of Sul Ross State University was reported missing Friday evening after she was last heard from Wednesday morning.

In a post on Facebook, the Alpine Police Department gave Zuzu's description as a 22-year-old white female who is approximately 5'0'', 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes, and stated that she may be endangered.

According to Zuzu's mother Lori Verk, Zuzu went out to the movies with a group of friends and an on-again off-again boyfriend Tuesday night. Lori adds that along with not hearing from Zuzu, she also hasn't heard from the boyfriend.

Since the word got out that Zuzu was missing, fliers were posted around the city at several businesses with residents showing their support for the missing girl's friends and family, as friends searched the Trans-Pecos area and a family friend planned on posting missing signs in the Midland-Odessa area.

Residents told CBS 7 that Zuzu had last been seen on Harrison Street around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, and at a nearby apartment police tape was found around a scene.

Another unconfirmed report stated that Zuzu was last seen leaving the Stripes Convenience store with an unidentified man. While Stripes Convenience Stores Communications Manager Jeff Shields could not confirm whether or not that was the case, he stated that the store has extensive surveillance systems and that they will work with the Alpine Police Department to provide any evidence that will help with the search.

A volunteer search party was held Sunday, that included helicopters, a search dog and nearly 150 people from the Alpine community.

According to Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown, the search involved resources from law enforcement agencies from across West Texas.

"At this point we are looking for anything and everything. We have very limited info as to what might have happened to Zuzu," Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown said.

On Sunday police released photos of two vehicles that they believe are connected to the case.

Police are seeking anyone who may have seen a grey 2006 Jeep Liberty and a 2004 Mazda Miata covertable with a beige top being driven between the hours of midnight and 10:00 AM on Wednesday.

If you have any information you are urged to contact the Alpine Police Department at 432-837-3486.