FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The three-week search for a missing New Jersey woman was not enough for one man.
The father of Stephanie Parze has organized his own search party to look for clues related to her disappearance.
More than 200 volunteers formed lines to canvas the woods of Michael J. Tighe Park in Freehold Township – many wearing white t-shirts with the 25-year-old’s face on it.
“They’re looking at things, could be nothing, but of course they’re still checking everything out,” Ed Parze said.
After more than two hours of searching near the ball fields, Stephanie’s father said there were no major finds.
“My state of mind is just hopeful. It’s bitter-sweet, you want to find something but don’t want to find something. It’s hard to explain that, you gotta really feel that.”
The 25-year-old was last seen leaving her parent’s house, before stopping at her grandmother’s house, and then heading to her home just a few minutes away on Oct. 30.
When she did not show up at work the next morning, her family knew something was wrong.
Parze says he is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from family friends and strangers. Local resident Georgiana Sheridan dropped off some donuts for the volunteers.
“We just feel terrible for the situation, for the family, and all the people trying to help find this girl. Just breaks your heart,” Sheridan said.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and NYPD have searched a wooded area on Staten Island in connection with her disappearance. Prosecutors say Parze’s ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen is a person of interest. He was arrested on child pornography charges – not related to the case – but released earlier this week.
“Stephanie, just keep fighting. We’re doing everything we can to get to her, she knows that. If you can get away or you’re OK just get up and get out and try to get home,” the missing woman’s father said.
The Parze family says they will not stop looking. They are organizing volunteers for another search Thursday morning on the other side of town.
Investigators add Parze’s ex-boyfriend sent her 10 unanswered messages the night before she disappeared. Authorities say she had previously accused Ozbilgen of assaulting her.