Hundreds of people attended an emotional memorial service at Sul Ross State University on Thursday night for Zuzu Verk.
The 21-year-old Keller woman’s remains were found on Friday in a shallow grave outside of town. Her boyfriend, Robert Fabian, and his friend are facing charges related to her disappearance and death.
If Verk’s family has learned anything over the past four months, it is that small places like Alpine often have big hearts.
Lori Verk, who fully relocated to town when her daughter went missing in mid-October, said she quickly discovered a lot of folks knew Zuzu personally.
“A lot of people did, whether it was running into her in town, or working, or at school," Lori said proudly.
While much of the attention over the past week has been about the discovery of Zuzu’s remains and new details in the investigation, her family wants people to remember a free spirit that accomplished so much when she was alive.
"She's just so passionate and interested in the world, and learning new things and culture. She was just a fascinating and fascinated person," says father Glenn.
He says Zuzu wanted a career in conservation, and had a desire to travel to places like Japan.
A search of Zuzu’s Facebook page shows a young woman with an infectious smile, especially when she was outdoors.
"She was a blast to be around, the best sister you can ever ask for," said Miles, her brother.
As a biology student at Sul Ross State University, Zuzu seemed happiest while enjoying the vast desert and beautiful mountains the Big Bend region offers.
Her brother said the pair moved to Alpine in 2015 and shared a house.
It was in that house he saw her for the final time, just hours before she vanished on Oct. 12.
"The last place I saw her, I was standing in front of our sink doing dishes, and said ‘good night’ and that was the last time I saw her," Miles said.
Days before that, Lori Verk, Zuzu’s mother, enjoyed a weekend with her daughter complete with a shopping spree and spa day.
"Our last weekend together, we had so much fun with mom-and-daughter time. I can really hold onto tight to that," said Lori. “I’m thankful for that.”
Thursday night’s service saw many of Zuzu's close friends and ties to the university speak inside the school’s amphitheater.
A memorial service in Keller will happen at a late time, according to the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the following:
Zuzu Verk Memorial Scholarship Fund in Natural Resource Management
C/O SRSU Office of External Affairs
PO Box C-114
Alpine, TX 79832
Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management
Louis A. Harveson, Ph.D.
Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. Endowed Director
P.O. Box C-21
Sul Ross State University
Alpine, TX 79832