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Boyfriend of Missing Alpine Student Named a Suspect In Her Disappearance

22-year-old Alpine student Zuzu Verk had been missing since October 12, 2016 (Alpine Police Department)

Alpine police have named the boyfriend of missing student Zuzu Verk a suspect in her disappearance.

The 22-year-old woman has been missing since October 12, with a widespread search effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies still ongoing.

Robert Fabian, the boyfriend, was initially a “person of interest” in the case. Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said Wednesday investigators had already been focusing on Fabian. Dodson said he was the last person to have seen and spoken by phone to Verk.

"Everything's kinda circling around him," Dodson said.

Fabian’s attorney Liz Rogers said previously her client had been cooperating with authorities, but police and Verk’s family have denied that.

"He is distraught over the disappearance of Zuzu as is everyone in our community," Rogers recently told CBS 7.

"He has cooperated with Texas Rangers as well as local law enforcement...we are conducting our own investigation and we fervently pray that she's found alive and well."

Rogers said Wednesday she’s "proud" to represent Fabian, but wouldn’t be commenting further on the case.

(Full disclosure: Rogers is a member of the board of directors of this radio station.)

According to Sheriff Dodson, authorities cleared an area they were investigating near Redford on Wednesday, but were still planning to continue searching in parts of Brewster County north of Marathon. He said authorities have been focusing on dead-end roads as part of the search, but haven’t received any substantial information as to where to focus their efforts.

"I mean right now, we haven't got nothin', so we're just blindly searching," he said.

Alpine police said Wednesday Fabian's family members continue to be "people of interest" in the case, as does Chris Estrada, an Alpine resident who was questioned by investigators this week but not yet cleared by a polygraph test.

Alpine police have indicated they are still following up on leads and new information, and that search teams have so far covered 500 square miles. Multiple drones have been brought in to assist with the search. There is still a $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to Verk’s whereabouts or safe return.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.