OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The body of missing Freehold woman Stephanie Parze was located Sunday in Middlesex County, and her ex-boyfriend has now been named as her killer.
“We identified 29-year-old John Ozbilgen as a person of interest early on in our investigation, based largely on his on-and-off nature of his relationship with Stephanie and a number of social media notifications that we were made aware of,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Monday.
It has been a painful three months for Ed and Sharlene Parze, who Monday found bittersweet comfort knowing their 25-year-old daughter Stephanie had finally been found.
“It goes without saying that our family is devastated,” Ed Parze said. “However, Stephanie is home. She’s coming home at last, right where she belongs. We have God to thank for that.”
The Parzes last saw their daughter on Oct. 30th in Freehold. They reported her missing the next day when she didn’t show up for work.
On Monday, police lined up along Route 9 in Old Bridge, just south of Old Mill Road, where her remains were discovered.
Prosecutors said two teenage boys discovered Parze’s body in a wooded area just before 3 p.m. Sunday. Search teams had looked in this area before, and it’s unclear how long her body had been there.
Investigators concluded Parze’s ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen, accused of assaulting her before, was responsible for her murder.
Investigators said among several pieces of incriminating evidence, he left a suicide note for his parents, admitting his guilt.
“In the note, Ozbilgen stated he had had enough and that he could not do life in prison. He also admitted that what his parents would hear in the news was true, except for charges of child pornography,” Gramiccioni said. “Ozbilgen acknowledged that he had dug himself a deep hole and wrote at the end of his note that this was the only choice.”
Parze’s heartbroken parents attended Monday’s announcement, where her father thanked “Steph’s Angels” for tirelessly searching for his daughter.
“This was an effort by thousands of dedicated people,” Ed Parze said. “I’ve said it many times in many news conferences with a lot of the reporters that have come to the house and come to the searches. I’ve never seen such a devoted group of committed people in my life. I mean, the communities have bonded together from here all the way out to Staten Island and all around the country. It’s been something to see. People made new friends, people become part of the family, we never knew these people before this happened. It’s just such a mass of people you could not imagine, I could never even count them. The community came together so much with the donations, the food, running events and so forth. It just was out of control. But we thank you all for that, because without that, we could have never gone through this.
“I want to thank the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office and police department for getting her home to us, and the two boys that found her. The Monmouth County prosecutor’s office and Freehold Township Police Department – they went way beyond the call of duty. We’re indebted to them, we thank them so much. Of course, we have to thank all of Steph’s Angels – a phrase we came up with because there were so many of them only heaven could have brought them down. So dedicated, it was amazing.
“We’re not going to stop our efforts, even though we know she’s home. Eventually in the upcoming weeks, we’re going to start a Stephanie Parze Foundation to bring awareness to battered women and missing people. It’s an epidemic, totally an epidemic. You do any research it’s 800,000 people a year in this country, 16,000 people alone in New Jersey. It’s just out of control. One of the statistics I read that we were driven by was three out of four people that go missing are found within the first 90 days. In 87 days, we found her.
“We can never thank you enough. Our inner circle, the people that are closest to us, Paul and Steve and everybody else who knows who they are. We love you guys, we thank you so much.”
The medical examiner has yet to determine how Parze died. Prosecutors don’t believe anyone helped Ozbilgen kill her, but haven’t concluded if he disposed of the body, himself.
Anyone with information about the investigation should call Det. Addie Spinola, of the Old Bridge Police Department, at (732) 721-5600, or Det. Sean Sullivan, of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, at (732) 745-4060.