The family of Zuzu Renee Verk, a 22-year-old North Texas woman living in Alpine who was reported missing last week, is pleading for her boyfriend to help in her search as a reward for information leading to her location or safe return has increased to $100,000.
Verk, who listed Coppell as her hometown on her Facebook page, attends Alpine's Sul Ross State University and was last seen there on Oct. 12.
Following her disappearance, Verk's family left their Keller home to assist in the search near Alpine.
"We've been embraced in a way that astounds us. Each day the search gets bigger and more extensive and more impressive, the resources that this small town has managed to gather to find our daughter," said Glenn Verk, Zuzu's father, during a news conference Friday morning. "I've found myself helpless and the only thing that I've really been able to do that seems to make any sense is to thank everyone."
The search for Verk has involved a number of local and state agencies as well as private search organizations -- all looking by air, on foot and on horseback.
During the course of the investigation, police have said Verk could be in danger but have declined to elaborate.
Police said Friday morning they have cleared three people in the investigation, but one person of interest they have not yet been able to clear is Verk's boyfriend. Police said the boyfriend, who they refused to name, has a lawyer and refuses to speak with police.
"Unfortunately we have one individual who we believe does have information, who has refused to come in and talk to us, has retained an attorney, and we haven't heard a word from him. So, when you talk about all the hundreds of people from all over the state that are working actively to help solve this and bring Zuzu back to her family, and one individual that won't, one individual who happens to know her better than anybody else -- that ought to tell you something, " said Alpine Chief of Police Russell Scown, of Zuzu's boyfriend.
Zuzu's father, while speaking at the same news conference Friday morning, thanked everyone for their efforts to find his missing daughter before taking a moment to address his daughter's boyfriend directly, pleading with him to cooperate with law enforcement.
"There's one person that I would like to be able to thank, but I can't yet. Zuzu's boyfriend, Robert, I'm asking you please to help us. I haven't seen you yet. I've seen a lot of people here helping," said Glenn Verk. "If you would 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."
Through tears, Zuzu's older brother Miles also addressed her 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," said Miles Verk.
Verk is described as 5 feet tall and 110 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes. Her natural hair color is brown but was recently colored blonde.
Earlier in the week Alpine police said they are hoping to speak with anyone who saw a 2006 gray Jeep Liberty or a 2004 Mazda Miata convertible with a beige top being driven between midnight and 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Police have not released any further details in the investigation or why those vehicles or their occupants may be of interest.
Sul Ross State has about 2,100 students. President Bill Kibler on Thursday released a statement saying Verk's disappearance has deeply affected the entire campus community, plus the surrounding area.
School spokesman Steve Lang on Friday said students, faculty and staff have taken part in voluntary searches coordinated through Alpine police.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the search for Verk was expanded to include Marathon, Fort Davis, South Brewster County, Marfa and Presidio County.
Police said Friday that search parties have been looking everywhere imagineable for the missing woman, and were literally banging every bush to make sure nothing was overlooked.
Assisting in the search are two professional search agencies, Texas Search and Rescue and Equusearch, along with the Brewster County Sheriff's Office, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, Pecos County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks And Wildlife, Texas Forest Service, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine, Texas Department of Corrections, National Park Service and the DEA.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Alpine police at 432-837-3486. Callers may remain anonymous.